Criminal court rejects case challenging legality of Nasheed’s re-imprisonment

Criminal court rejects case challenging legality of Nasheed’s re-imprisonment
September 09 11:33 2015

A panel of judges at the criminal court has rejected a case filed by former President Mohamed Nasheed’s legal team challenging the legality of his re-imprisonment on August 23 after two months under house arrest.

Nasheed’s lawyers initially filed the case a day after he was taken back to Maafushi prison, requesting the court to declare the transfer “illegal and arbitrary” as the Maldives Correctional Services (MCS) had provided a document showing that the 13-year jail sentence was commuted to house arrest.

The government, however, denied commuting Nasheed’s sentence and the criminal court’s registrar refused to accept the case.

Referring to the prisons and parole law, acting registrar Mohamed Ibrahim informed lawyers that the MCS is “mandated to enforce jail sentences issued by a court of law.”

The legal team asked the court to review the registrar’s decision.

The criminal court said in a brief statement yesterday that panel of judges decided to uphold the registrar’s decision.

Nasheed’s legal team member Hassan Latheef told The Maldives Independent that the team has not yet been officially informed of the court’s decision.

“We are yet to decide on how to proceed with the matter further,” he added.

Nasheed’s re-imprisonment drew fresh criticism from the international community with the UN human rights chief as well as the US and British government renewing calls for his release.

The police had meanwhile launched an investigation after the government dismissed the MCS document handed to Nasheed as a “forgery.” The document bore the state seal, a reference number, and the signature of a prisons official.

The police searched Nasheed’s residence on August 27, confiscating CCTV footage from the house, which lawyers say shows an MCS official entering the house to hand over the disputed document.

Police also summoned Nasheed’s wife Laila Ali for questioning. At least three MCS officials have also been questioned.

Meanwhile, a preliminary hearing is due to take place at the High Court at 2:00pm today to decide whether to accept the prosecutor general’s (PG) appeal of Nasheed’s conviction on terrorism charges.

Nasheed and his lawyers will attend the hearing.

High Court spokesperson Amin Faisal told The Maldives Independent on Sunday that Nasheed’s lawyers would be offered the opportunity to present arguments along with the state prosecutors and persuade the court to accept the appeal.

The PG office announced its intention to appeal the 13-year jail sentence on July 23 amid negotiations between the government and Nasheed’s Maldivian Democratic Party. The main opposition party has since withdrawn from the talks following Nasheed’s transfer back to jail, citing the government’s refusal to honour its commitment to release Nasheed and other jailed opposition politicians.