(Note: This is a translation of the Closing Statement prepared by President Mohamed Nasheed for submission at his trial where he was charged with terrorism by the State. The statement was not delivered at the verdict hearing as he was not given sufficient time to prepare it.)
Since becoming a Republic, the Maldives has begotten an ugly tradition of raising criminal charges including treason and civil unrest against Presidents who have vacated or been forced to vacate their office, sidelining them from the political sphere. Maldivian history has shown new Presidents working to marginalise erstwhile leaders from the system in the fear that they may pose a threat later on. However, when I was elected President, I wished to write a new page in this chapter of Maldivian history. All Maldivian citizens, without exception, will firmly believe that former President Maumoon Abdul Gayoom is at peace today because of this decision.
Following prolonged proceedings on charges raised under Article 81 of the Penal Code, the current Prosecutor General – in a move ostensibly to review the case – withdrew said charges and filed new charges of terrorism against me. Senior members of the Maldivian military were charged along with me. I believe we are blessed with the freedom we enjoy today due to the many sacrifices of the officers of Maldives National Defense Force. I am deeply concerned that the State has decided to repay them by attempting to shape the public perception that MNDF is involved in terrorist activities and raising charges that besmirch the honor and dignity of that Institution.
I have tried to prepare my defense in a manner that would not denigrate the dignity and honor of MNDF and the trust the Maldivian people have placed in the institution. If the state continues to portray the MNDF as a threat to the Maldivian people, I believe we will soon be faced with the danger of losing military aid as the MNDF loses its esteem in the eyes of the international community. Those with any love for the nation would not sully its name over mere political rivalry.
The charges raised against me and the subsequent trial have been unfair. The state charged me with an offence that carries a heavier penalty with malicious intent for political reasons. While the State has raised charges under section 2(b) of the Terrorism Act, no law explains the elements necessary to prove the criminal acts referenced in that section. As I have the Constitutional right to clearly understand the charges brought against me, I believe I am entitled to be informed of the basis for the charges and the elements of the offence I am charged with. However, from the time I have been charged, throughout the trial and as we approach sentencing, the state has yet to fully explain the charges raised against me.
The court conducted this trial at an extraordinary pace. It has not given me adequate opportunity to defend myself against the charges raised against me. The court granted less than three days for my lawyers to go through hundreds of pages of statements and prepare a defense. Despite repeated requests for more time by my lawyers and I, the court has adamantly refused our requests. In conducting this trial, the court has denied me the benefits and the protections guaranteed under articles 17, 20, 33, 42, 49, 51, 52, 53, 54, 57, 60, 61, 68, 69, 128, 149, 223 and 246 of the constitution.
I have submitted names of witnesses and requested they be brought to court to provide defense testimony. However, the Court has refused to admit my witnesses, claiming that that their testimonies will not nullify the evidence submitted by the State. The Court has even refused me the opportunity to submit my defense. Not one aspect of this trial has been conducted with fairness. I have been denied the rights of the accused in contravention of the principles clearly enshrined in the Constitution.
I received continuous complaints from my Home Minister and the Commissioner of Police regarding the Chief Judge of the Criminal Court Abdulla Mohamed. Numerous complaints were also filed by the general public.
The last complaint I received concerned a very tragic incident. It was the reported incident of Judge Abdulla releasing a murder suspect from police custody as the IGM Hospital had not submitted a document pertinent to the case, who subsequently went on to commit another murder. The police and Home Minister perceived this incident as a direct contract killing. As the man who had been contracted to commit the murder was in police custody at the time, the contractor had amended the contract to include Judge Abdulla, whose role it was to facilitate his release so he was free to fulfil the contract. I was informed that when the man was released from police custody, he was being detained as a suspect in a previous murder investigation. There was no way for the police to arrest him after Judge Abdulla released him. He went on to stab another man, committing another murder. Since suspects in other murder cases had been kept in custody till the end of their trials, the police service felt that the person in this case was released for that very purpose and informed me of such.
I was informed that those who commit violence against others in the Maldives usually do not do so out of anger but rather, to fulfill a contract and because they have been paid. The Commissioner of Police of my government had no trouble in explaining this to me. When I was imprisoned several times without cause during President Maumoon’s administration, I had the opportunity to meet many different kinds of people in custody. I also know Male as I do the back of my hand. I can recognize islands from their silhouettes on the horizon. I believe the people of this country made me their leader for this reason. I believe the people of this country chose me, a common, middle-class Male’ resident as their leader because even their most essential needs were unmet, and because they wanted me to work towards achieving for them what is rightfully theirs.
I was elected in the hope that Maldivians would no longer have to beg for medical expenses or text books, that they will have employment opportunities, an adequate income and housing and to fulfill their hopes of living in a peaceful environment, leading lives of dignity. According to police intelligence, certain judges were denying them this hope and involving themselves in contract killings. As the President, this was not something I could overlook.
Therefore, I requested the police service investigate the case of Judge Abdulla.
Under no circumstances did I instruct the Commissioner of Police to do so in violation of the law and regulations. Only to do it in accordance with the laws of Maldives. Once the President of the Maldives issues an order to a relevant authority, it is their duty to comply in accordance with the law. During late 2008, I asked the finance minister to increase the national revenue from MVR 6 billion to MVR 11 billion. That does not mean he was meant to use the armed forces to go around pillaging the nation.
Everything relating to Judge Abdullah proceeded as I have mentioned. I have never ordered anyone to do anything that contravenes the law. After the police failed to summon Judge Abdullah for questioning, in continuing the investigation as far as possible without questioning him, the police found that Judge Abdullah constituted a threat to national security. When informed of this, I ordered the Home Minister to take all measures necessary to safeguard the nation from this threat. I did not give directions at any time to any party, to complete a specific task in a specific manner or to take any specific measures.
I never made a decision to take Judge Abdullah anywhere by force. And I have never given any order to that effect. When any issue relating to Judge Abdullah was brought before me, I always informed the relevant state authorities to take measures in accordance with the law. I sent some of the cases to the Judicial Service Commission and some to the Police. This is clearly evident from the documents of the Judicial Service Commission, the Maldives Police Service and the President’s Office.
In the testimonies of the Prosecution’s witnesses to prove the decision to arrest Judge Abdullah, all testified that I had never given them the order to arrest Judge Abdulla. No one else had informed them of such an order being made, nor did they see any writing to that effect.
Additionally, during Judge Abdulla’s statement to the court, he stated that based on what he heard from senior military officials, he believed the order to arrest him must have come from me. This is Judge Abdulla’s personal opinion based on his experiences. This is the victim’s perspective. This may not be the best testimony to prove something in a court of law.
This trial is not being conducted fairly. The three judges hearing the case are openly communicating to my close friends that this is out of their hands; that they do not have the discretion to rule over the case. In reality, it is you three Judges who have to bear the responsibility for this grave injustice. I also grew up in this country. I am known to most in this country and my greatest fortune is that many people both in this country and within the international community wish me well. God willing, there will be justice for what you three Judges are inflicting on me. Those who wish me well will never give up until justice is served.
Under the guise of a trial, you three judges conducted a circus. There is no point in speaking here as you would in a court of law. As a parting word I will again only tell you three judges to humble yourselves in the eyes of the world. To fear the afterlife. And to recuse yourselves from conducting this circus.