Chief judge praises criminal court over Nasheed’s trial

Chief judge Abdulla Mohamed has praised judges and staff at the criminal court for the swift conclusion of former president Mohamed Nasheed’s terrorism trial which related to the judge’s arrest in 2012.

The criminal court handed Nasheed a 13-year jail term, sparking international outrage and daily protests across the country.

“The Maldivian military was brought to alert, tents set up at the justice building, scan machines were kept, and the whole country was brought to alert,” Judge Abdulla was quoted as saying by local media.

“A three-judge panel was formed, and a verdict was delivered in 19 days by criminal court judges and staff in a case that couldn’t be concluded in three years,” the chief judge said at a function held last night to mark the court’s anniversary.

Nasheed’s rushed trial was widely criticised by foreign governments, the UN, and Amnesty International for its apparent lack of due process.

Judge Abdulla meanwhile said criminal court judges and staff were awake at night and during weekends while the rest of the judiciary was asleep.

The court proved that the “judiciary is awake” after “matters reached the state where some people believed the judiciary was incapable.”

In addition to Nasheed, his defence minister Tholhath Ibrahim Kaleyfaanu, then-chief of defence forces Moosa Ali Jaleel, then-Malé Area Commander Brigadier General Ibrahim Mohamed Didi, and ex-colonel Mohamed Ziyad were charged with terrorism over the judge’s arrest.

Tholhath was found guilty and sentenced to 10 years in prison.

Nasheed has meanwhile accused Judge Abdulla of involvement in a “contract killing,” and said he had blocked an investigation into his misconduct by the judicial watchdog, and obstructed the police from carrying out their duties.

Judge Abdulla last night also said unlawful arrests by the state have not come to an end, despite six years passing after the adoption of the 2008 constitution.

Seven cases of unlawful detention were submitted to the court last year, he said.

Judge Abdulla said last year’s cases of unlawful arrest included four expatriates suing the immigration department, and one expatriate suing the police. In addition, three Maldivians sued police and the correctional services.

He also referred to the arrest of then-MP Abdulla Yameen and MP Gasim Ibrahim in 2010.

“There’s no doubt that these matters will become a lesson in Maldivian history,” judge Abdulla reportedly said.

He called for more benefits and additional security to criminal court judges.

Lack of space and facilities at the court posed difficulties in providing lawyers access to their clients and the ability to study case documents, the chief judge said.


Former Defense Minister Tholhath pleads not guilty to terrorism charges

Former Minister of Defense Tholhath Ibrahim Kaleyfaanu has pleaded not guilty to terrorism charges over the January 2012 detention of Criminal Court Chief Judge Abdulla Mohamed.

At a 5:00pm trial on Monday, Criminal Court Judge Abdulla Didi gave Tholhath three days to appoint a lawyer and answer charges.

Tholhath’s hearing took place right after former President Mohamed Nasheed appeared in court over the same charges. Judge Didi had placed Nasheed in police custody until the end of the trial.

Brigadier General (Rtd) and MP Ibrahim Didi, Colonel (Rtd) Mohamed Ziyad, and current Defense Minister Moosa Ali Jaleel also face terrorism charges over the judge’s arrest. But the three have not been informed of when their trials are to take place.

Jaleel was the Chief of Defense Forces during the judge’s arrest. He was appointed as Defense Minister in late January following the dismissal of then Defense Minister Mohamed Nazim after a controversial discovery of weapons at his residence.

Nazim is currently in police custody over terrorism and treason charges.

Three successive Defense Ministers in the Maldives now face terrorism charges. The offense carried a jail term between ten and 15 years.


Police summon former Defence Minister and President’s Office Undersecretary for questioning

Police have summoned former Defense Minister Tholhath Ibrahim to for questioning over former President Mohamed Nasheed’s arrest of Criminal Court Chief Justice Abdulla Mohamed.

Former Undersecretary of the President’s Office Ibrahim Rasheed ‘Hoara Ibee’ has also been summoned for questioning  to over alcohol bottles police reportedly discovered inside Presidential Residence Muleeage, on the day of the police mutiny.

Rasheed today told Minivan News that he was summoned to police and asked about the bottles, and that he answered the police questions.

‘’I told them that the area where they found the items can be accessed by anyone who enters Muleeage so nobody could be certain who they belonged to,’’ Rasheed said. ‘’We believe there was police mutiny in February 7 – the  day they claimed to have found those bottles – and we are not sure whether it was the police or the Maldives National Defence Force (MNDF) who were in control of Muleeage that day.’’

Rasheed said ‘’I think their main objective is to destroy our reputation, it’s what they have always been doing, so we expect more allegations.’’

Tholhath confirmed to Minivan News that he was questioned about the arrest of Judge Abdulla Mohamed.

Police Sub-Inspector Ahmed Shiyam also confirmed that the pair were summoned for questioning over some cases reported to police.

He said that as the investigation was still not concluded, police could not give further details.

Criminal Court Chief Judge Abdulla Mohamed was arrested by the MNDF on the evening of Monday, January 16, in compliance with a police request.

The judge’s whereabouts were not revealed until January 18. The MNDF had acknowledged receipt but not replied to Supreme Court orders to release the judge.

Prosecutor General (PG) Ahmed Muizz joined the High and Supreme Courts in condemning the MNDF’s role in the arrest as unlawful, and requesting that the judge be released. Former President Mohamed Nasheed has maintained that he was upholding the constitution in the arrest of the judge, following the failure of both parliament and the judicial services commission to adequately investigate him, after the Chief Judge in September 2011 had the civil court issue an injunction against his further investigation by the judicial watchdog.

Opposition political parties held a series of protests which culminated on the morning of February 7 with the resignation of Nasheed – allegedly under duress – and the handover of the presidency to Vice President Dr Mohamed Waheed Hassan.

The same day, MNDF and police officers claimed to have found alcohol bottles and hash oil in the presidential residence.