LONDON: The Maldives Supreme Court has upheld a terrorism conviction against former President Nasheed in an appeals ruling announced on Monday.
President Nasheed was convicted of ‘terrorism’ in March 2015, following a trial widely condemned by the international community as politically motivated and decried by Amnesty International as a “travesty of justice.”
The United Nations Working Group on Arbitrary Detention ruled in October 2015 that President Nasheed’s conviction and detention violated international law, and called for his immediate release. The Maldives government refuses to abide by the Working Group’s opinion.
Lawyers representing President Nasheed said that the Supreme Court’s appeals ruling was “full of contradictions” and that the bench appeared to have deliberately overlooked major procedural violations in the trial, including the fact that President Nasheed was prevented from calling any defence witnesses.
Commenting on the ruling, Amal Clooney, a member of President Nasheed’s international counsel, said:
“The government of the Maldives has made it clear that it intends to use its court system to silence opponents, including President Nasheed and every other opposition leader. This latest ruling is the final rubber stamp on a corrupt trial and confirms that the constitutional guarantee of due process is not worth the paper it is written on in the Maldives”.
Jared Genser, also a member of President Nasheed’s international counsel, added:
“It is both incredibly disappointing but totally unsurprising that the Maldives Supreme Court has rejected President Nasheed’s final appeal on his illegal conviction on terrorism charges. This summary decision, which totally failed to consider President Nasheed’s arguments, let alone the Maldives’ obligations under its own and international law, demonstrates yet again that the judiciary is merely a tool of President Abdulla Yameen and is neither independent nor impartial.”
President Nasheed is currently in the United Kingdom, where he has refugee status.
The ruling against President Nasheed follows similar verdicts against President Yameen’s political opponents. Former Defense Minister Mohamed Nazim, also jailed for terrorism last year, saw his appeal thrown out by the Supreme Court bench on Sunday. Nazim’s conviction has been widely condemned, including by the United Statesand Amnesty International.
Meanwhile, on Friday the Supreme Court’s upheld a death sentence against a 22-year-old man convicted of murdering a parliamentarian, after rejecting an attempt by members of the MP’s family to prevent the execution from proceeding. The verdict paves the way for the first execution in the Maldives for more than half a century.