In an extraordinary twist, President Nasheed’s legal team has discovered that two of the three judges presiding over his trial, and the Prosecutor General, have made witness statements which are being used in the prosecution’s case against President Nasheed.
Court documents submitted to President Nasheed’s legal team on Wednesday reveal that Prosecutor General Muhthaz Muhsin, Judge Abdulla Didi and Judge Abdul Bari Yusuf have made witness statements and have been listed as prosecution witnesses.
Internationally accepted legal principles, as well as Islamic Sharia and law, do not allow the prosecution, witnesses and judges to be the same person, because of the obvious conflict of interest.
This latest development follows the court’s refusal on Monday to allow President Nasheed access to legal representation during the first hearing of his surprise trial for terrorism.
The court on Monday also denied President Nasheed’s requests for medical attention, after members of the Maldives Police Service forcibly dragged him into the court building, hurting him in the process.
Commenting on today’s revelations, Maldivian Democratic Party spokesperson Hamid Abdul Ghafoor said:
“This court case has become a farce before it has barely begun. The government isn’t even bothering to put on the pretence of a fair trial.
“I can think of only three places where judges and officials behave in such a blatantly politicised manner: the Maldives, North Korea and Franz Kafka novels.”
Also on Wednesday, President Nasheed’s legal team requested that he be transferred from jail to house arrest, for the remainder of his trial.
In a letter to the Minister of Home Affairs, President Nasheed’s lawyer, Hassan Latheef, stated: “Request the transfer of President Nasheed to house arrest due to the maltreatment of President Nasheed from certain Police officers while under custody, and to prevent any further harm to his safety and security.”
In further developments on Wednesday, President Yameen ratcheted up his persecution of the political opposition. State prosecutors accused former Defense Minister Mohamed Nazim, who is on trial for alleged ‘treason’, a charge he vigorously denies, of conspiring with Gasim Ibrahim to harm state officials.
Gasim Ibrahim is an opposition leader and head of the JP political party, which is in alliance with President Nasheed’s MDP.
The Criminal Court has scheduled second hearing at 8 pm (local time) on 26th February 2015.
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.