Home minister to decide on extension of Nasheed’s house arrest

Home minister to decide on extension of Nasheed’s house arrest
August 22 14:29 2015

Home minister Umar Naseer will decide on extending former president Mohamed Nasheed’s house arrest next week after an approved eight week period expired yesterday.

“We have forwarded all of Nasheed’s medical records and the doctor’s recommendations to the home minister. He now will decide on extension of house arrest,” Commissioner of Prisons Mohamed Husham told The Maldives Independent today.

Contrary to media reports, the attorney general’s office said last week that the opposition leader’s 13-year jail sentence has not been commuted to house arrest.

Nasheed’s international lawyer Jared Genser told reporters in Colombo on July 24 that the government had “permanently moved President Nasheed to house arrest for the balance of his 13-year term in prison.”

Deputy attorney general Ismail Wisham told The Maldives Independent on Thursday that Nasheed’s doctor had submitted a second report following a consultation at the ADK hospital in Malé on Wednesday (19 August).

Wisham did not reveal the contents of the doctor’s report.

“To our knowledge there is no major shift between the recommendations in the first and second report,” he said.

The home minister and president’s office spokesperson were unavailable for comment at the time of publication.

Nasheed was first transferred to house arrest on June 19, following doctor’s recommendations he be kept in a stress free environment. The period was extended to eight weeks soon after the main opposition Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) announced it would back constitutional amendment to set new age limits for the presidency.

The eight week house arrest period expired yesterday.

Husham said last week that the Maldives Correctional Services (MCS) was unaware of any official documentation on the commutation of Nasheed’s 13-year jail.

“We will decide on keeping him under house arrest or taking him back to jail after reviewing the recommendation by his doctors,” he said.

Nasheed’s transfer to house arrest was widely seen as part of a deal with the government in exchange for the MDP’s backing for several crucial votes in parliament.

Shortly after the house arrest was extended to eight weeks, the MDP and the government officially began talks on clemency for Nasheed and other jailed politicians as well as the withdrawal of charges against some 1,400 opposition supporters.

Opposition MPs subsequently backed the impeachment of vice president Dr Mohamed Jameel and the constitutional amendment setting new age limits of 30-65 years for the presidency and vice presidency. The amendment allowed President Yameen to replace Jameel with the influential tourism minister Ahmed Adeeb.

The MDP also issued a free whip on a second constitutional amendment to allow foreign freeholds in the Maldives. Some 19 opposition MPs, including ten MDP MPs, voted to pass the amendment.

At the fourth meeting of talks, MDP representative Ibrahim Mohamed Solih had suggested that Nasheed may be released before July 26.

However, amidst rumours of a presidential pardon, the prosecutor general appealed Nasheed’s terrorism conviction at the High Court, prompting the MDP to call on the government to honour its commitments. 

Talks between the MDP and the government have been stalled since mid-July.