President Nasheed’s legal team excused themselves from court on Sunday, stating that it was impossible to provide their client with proper legal counsel because they were not provided with important documentary evidence on time.
In Sunday evening’s hearing, President Nasheed’s legal team were supposed to evaluate prosecution evidence that had been given in audio and video messages.
President Nasheed’s legal team received CDs of this evidence on Sunday morning. However, when they opened the CDs, they were either dysfunctional or were blank.
In a letter (see English translation attached) sent to the Chief Justice of the Criminal Court on Sunday 8 March, the legal team says:
“We as the lawyers for the accused, under an obligation to provide him with legal advise and opinions, must be able to read all the written materials for the case, examine all the witnesses and evidence, conduct legal research and prepare properly for the respective trial hearings.
“Since we are not being afforded that adequate time to prepare, we believe we are unable to dispense our legal advise and counsel to President Mohamed Nasheed and represent him on a fair and just basis and as such he is unable to exercise his rights under Article 51 (e) of the Constitution, which stipulates that an accused has the right be afforded adequate time and facilities for the preparation of his defence and to communicate with and instruct his legal counsel.
“As such, we believe we are unable to represent him in a fair and just manner… [we] have notified President Mohamed Nasheed that we have excused ourselves from attending the trial hearing. We are therefore submitting the above matter to your attention to be notified to the bench in charge of conducting the trial in the Criminal Court, as mentioned in the case heading.”
President Nasheed represents himself in court
On Sunday, President Nasheed represented himself, once again, in court without legal representation.
He requested the bench for 15 more days to prepare his case.
The presiding Judge announced that the next hearing would be held the following day, on Monday 9 March, and that it would continue even if the former president’s lawyers were not present.
Religious Adhaalath Party Latest To Quit President Yameen’s Coalition
Also on Sunday, the religiously conservative Adhaalath Party announced they had quit President Yameen’s ruling coalition because of the President’s increasingly authoritarian actions.
Of the four political parties that made up the ruling coalition, only Yameen’s PPM and the small Maldivian Development Alliance remain.
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.
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.