Nazim unfairly sentenced after an investigation and trial “rigged with irregularities,” says MDP

The Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) has condemned in the “strongest terms” the sentencing of former Defence Minister Mohamed Nazim to 11 years in jail.

The Criminal Court on March 26 found Nazim guilty of smuggling weapons. Denying the accusation, Nazim had said the weapons were planted at his home by rogue officers on the orders of Tourism Minister Ahmed Adeeb.

Both the police and the Tourism Minister have dismissed Nazim’s claims as baseless and untrue.

The MDP said Nazim was sentenced in an investigation and a trial “rigged with irregularities.”

“Despite the state not being able to disprove the contradictions in testimony given by state witnesses and the irregularities in the Police investigation raised by the defence, the court sentenced Col. (Rtd) Nazim to 11 years in jail,” the party said in a statement today.

The MDP noted the Criminal Court did allow Nazim’s legal team to call the majority of defence witnesses on the claim they would “not negate” the prosecution’s evidence.

The opposition party also said the court had refused to address the “blatant irregularities” evident in the Maldives Police Service’s investigation of the case, ranging from the initial warrant to search the former Defence Minister’s residence, to the chain of custody process in relation to the weapons that were supposedly found in his apartment.

The statement also noted the “unlawful” trial was presided over by the same three judges who sentenced former President Mohamed Nasheed to 13 years in jail on terrorism charges on March 13.

“The sentences against President Mohamed Nasheed and Col. (Rtd) Nazim, arrests of over 120 people, including MPs and media, and the sending of 90 cases for prosecution against people detained from peaceful protests highlight the politicisation of the entire criminal justice system,” the MDP said.

‘There is no separation between the Government and the Judiciary in the pursuit of their political objectives. Their attempts to eliminate their political opponents through politically motivated charges and sham trials do not contain even a veneer of due process,” said MDP Spokesperson Hamid Abdul Ghafoor.


“We will secure our rights from the street,” says Sheikh Imran

The opposition alliance will bring an end to the government’s “brutality” through street protests, Adhaalath Party (AP) President Sheikh Imran Abdulla declared last night.

Speaking at last night’s protest by the “Maldivians against brutality” alliance, Imran referred to President Abdulla Yameen urging the opposition to prove allegations of the government’s unlawful actions at court and to file complaints of alleged rampant corruption at the Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC).

“After buying people at high prices to gain a majority of the People’s Majlis, after changing the judiciary, and bringing all independent institutions under his fist, when he says ‘go to the institutions,’ the Maldivian people are not fools,” Imran said.

“We will end this from the street. We will secure our rights from the street.”

In a statement issued yesterday, President Yameen denied any knowledge of former Defence Minister Mohamed Nazim being “framed” and advised the AP leader to prove Nazim’s innocence at court.

Imran said President Yameen’s statement indicated progress in the opposition efforts, urging protesters to remain steadfast as the government would soon “sign a peace agreement”.

He also claimed that former President Maumoon Abdul Gayoom had pleaded with Yameen to release Nazim but was rebuffed.

Imran compared President Yameen to Hitler, who “never did anything against the law” as he had used the German parliament to change laws at will.

Calling on the government to end its “brutality” against former President Mohamed Nasheed, Colonel (Retired) Nazim, and Jumhooree Party (JP) Leader Gasim Ibrahim, Imran warned that the alliance would expose the truth of murders that have occurred in the country.

“First we will free these three leaders, then we start talking about the murders,” he said.

Protest march


Thousands of supporters took to the streets in the second consecutive night of the alliance’s protests, starting from the artifical beach area and marching down the capital’s main thoroughfare Majeedhee Magu.

Around 11:15pm, clashes occurred between protesters and riot police after Specialist Operations (SO) officers attempted to confiscate loudspeakers from the ‘sound lorry.’

With SO officers blocking their path, protesters split into two groups near the Maafanu cemetery, with one group marching into side streets led by MP Ahmed Mahloof – recently expelled from the ruling Progressive Party of Maldives – and the other gathered near the cemetery.

The protest was officially called off for the night near the MDP’s main office on Sosun Magu around 12:15am.

A police media official told Minivan News today that three individuals were arrested at time, with two accused of disobeying police orders and one accused of attempting to harm a police officer. Among them was a journalist from Channel One.

Protester arrested

Invoking powers granted by Article 41 of the Freedom of Assembly Act, police issued a statement earlier in the day ordering protest organisers not to use loudspeakers or megaphones after 11:00pm and to end the protest at 12:00am.

Moreover, police warned protesters against repeatedly gathering in one location or street.

Police claimed to have received  numerous complaints from the public and businesses about disruptions caused by the nightly protests.

Police said businesses were adversely affected when roads had to be closed to traffic, causing “irreparable economic damage”.

Photos from Ranreendhoo Maldives


India, UK politicians continue to voice concern over Nasheed’s imprisonment

Politicians from the United Kingdom and India this week continued to voice concerns over former President Mohamed Nasheed’s 13 year jail term for terrorism offences.

“We have a number of serious concerns about increasing political tensions in the Maldives and the arrest of former President Nasheed,” Minister of State for the Foreign and Commonwealth Office Hugo Swire told parliament this week.

Meanwhile, Indian diplomats have called the trial a foregone conclusion, while the French government has added its voice to growing international concern over the trial.

On March 16, UK Conservative Party MP Geoffrey Clifton-Brown questioned Swire about discussions held with Maldives foreign minister Dunya Maumoon regarding Nasheed’s rushed trial.

In response, Swire said the trial was not conducted in “accordance with due legal procedure.”

“Despite calls from the international community for due process to be followed, we are concerned that the former President’s trial has not been conducted in a transparent and impartial manner nor in accordance with due legal process,” he added.

Last week, Lord Alton of Liverpool asked the UK government for its assessment of the Criminal Court’s decision to deny Nasheed rights of appeal in relation to his initial arrest, and asked what discussions had taken place with the Commonwealth over the rule of law in the Maldives.

Conservative peer Baroness Joyce Anelay referred to Swire’s statements expressing concern over irregularities in Nasheed’s trial, saying the UK continues to monitor the situation closely.

“It is important for international confidence in Maldives that Mr Nasheed, like all other citizens, is seen to be enjoying due legal process and respect for his fundamental rights,” she said.

International concern grows

Nasheed was charged with terrorism over the military’s detention of Criminal Court Chief Judge Abdulla Mohamed in January 2012. The Criminal Court’s refusal to allow Nasheed legal counsel, adequate time to prepare defence, or to hear defence witnesses has caused international concern.

The United States, United Kingdom, and the European Union expressed concern with the lack of due process, while Amnesty International has said Nasheed’s conviction “after a deeply flawed and politically motivated trial is a travesty of justice.”

The French Embassy for Sri Lanka and the Maldives has been the latest to join the increasing international chorus of concern.

“France wishes to reiterate the importance of the right to a fair trial, which is a founding principle of democracy. We call on the Maldivian government to stand by its international commitments in this field,” a statement issued on Wednesday read.

Meanwhile, several Indian Diplomats told India’s Economic Times that the outcome of the trial had been a foregone conclusion, with the verdict written long before Nasheed was arrested and charged with terrorism.

“Every hearing at the court has been a blow to the rule of law,” said an unnamed Indian official.

“It is apparent that Yameen’s government, despite being seen as strong and stable, has seeds of instability within itself due to Yameen’s narrow outlook which has led to sustained efforts on the part of his coterie to neutralize other potential power centres and prospective threats,” the official said.

Government defends trial

Foreign minister Dunya Maumoon, at a press conference in Colombo on Monday (March 16), called upon India and Sri Lanka to defend the Maldives from “unjust criticism” from the international community.

Dunya and Attorney General Mohamed Anil maintained the trial was fair and just, insisting that the government does not interfere with the judiciary.

Arresting Judge Abdulla was a “serious crime,” Dunya said.

“We feel, that some people are a lot stricter on us because we are a small nation,” said Dunya. “There are countries with bigger issues than the Maldives.”

Dunya has previously condemned international statements of concern, stating: “Those who prefer to issue public statements about an on-going legal case, or on a domestic political situation, are advised to do a basic fact-check, before bandwagoning on to accusations made by a political party.”

In a statement issued last week, Dunya said that President Abdulla Yameen’s administration “will not take instructions from a foreign government on any issue in governing the country.”

President Abdulla Yameen has meanwhile called on all parties to respect the Criminal Court’s verdict.

In a statement released by the President’s Office on Sunday (March 15), President Yameen noted that the opposition leader has “a constitutionally guaranteed right of appeal” to challenge his conviction on terrorism charges at the High Court.

The Human Rights Commission of Maldives said the former president was denied fundamental rights that guarantee a fair trial in line with the Maldives’ obligations under the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR).

Moreover, human rights NGO Maldivian Democracy Network urged the UN apecial rapporteur on the independence of judges to intervene in order to prevent a “slide back to autocracy,” whilst Transparency Maldives expressed “grave concern”, stressing that Nasheed was denied legal representation, the right to appeal, and sufficient time to mount a defence.

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