President Nasheed Denied Legal Representation As Hearing Commences in Male’

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President Nasheed’s legal team has been barred from representing him during his hearing at the Criminal Court, due to start at 4pm local time today.

President Nasheed’s legal team, which consists of five senior Maldivian lawyers, have been denied the right of audience at the Criminal Court.

The Court’s action means that President Nasheed will be forced to represent himself during the hearing.

Lawyer Hisaan Hussein, a member of President Nasheed’s legal team, said:

“This arrest and detention is completely arbitrary. President Nasheed has been dragged to jail unlawfully and denied legal representation. The conduct of the courts, police and President Yameen’s administration has been reprehensible. This is clearly and blatantly politically motivated.”

President Nasheed’s legal team has also raised a host of other legal irregularities since he was arrested on Sunday on charges of ‘terrorism’.

These other irregularities include:

  • President Nasheed’s legal team has not been officially informed of the details of the charges against him, nor why he was arrested. He is only receiving information about his case from the media.
  • Neither President Nasheed nor his legal team has been informed of any ongoing investigations against him.
  • President Nasheed’s arrest warrant, issued by the Criminal Court on Sunday 22 February, did not contain key information as prescribed by law. For instance, the warrant did not stipulate the place where President Nasheed should be detained, or the period of his detention.
  • The warrant was issued by the Criminal Court at the request of the Prosecutor General, Muhthaz Muhsin, who personally attended the court to seek the order. However, under Maldivian law the Prosecutor General does not have the powers to request for the detention of any person.
  • The issuing of the arrest warrant was based on a classified police intelligence report, which is highly irregular as such reports are submitted only during the investigation stage.
  • President Nasheed’s right to appeal, as provided under the Constitution, has been impeded. The Criminal Court refused on Monday to provide President Nasheed’s lawyers with the forms needed to lodge an appeal.

President Nasheed is currently being held in Dhoonidhoo Island Detention Centre.

Background information

President Nasheed is the Maldives’ first democratically-elected president. He was elected into office in 2008, bringing to an end the 30-year dictatorship of Maumoon Abdul Gayoom.

In February 2012, President Nasheed was ousted in a coup, after mutinying police and army personnel overrun the institutions of state.

In the first round of presidential elections in 2013, President Nasheed received 45% of the vote to Yameen’s 25%. But the Supreme Court constantly meddled in the election – repeatedly annulling, cancelling and postponing the ballot in order to favour the candidacy of Yameen, Gayoom’s half-brother, who went on to assume the presidency.

On January 24 2015, Gasim Ibrahim, who polled third in the first round of the 2013 elections with 24% of the vote, and his party the JP, quit Yameen’s coalition government and sided with President Nasheed and his party, the MDP.

In quitting the governing coalition, Gasim cited President Yameen’s continued attempts to undermine the rule of law and institutions of democracy, including the sacking and harassment of members of the Elections Commission.

In recent weeks, President Yameen’s allies in parliament announced plans to put an upper age limit for those running for President, which would bar Gasim from competing in the 2018 presidential elections.

On February 10 2015, Yameen’s Defense Minister, Colonel (Ret.) Mohamed Nazim, was arrested following a power struggle within government. He has been taken to Dhoonidhoo Detention Centre and faces charges of treason.

Photos by Minivan News are available here

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