Judge in ‘coup plot’ pleads not guilty to terrorism charge

Judge in ‘coup plot’ pleads not guilty to terrorism charge
April 06 16:38 2016

A judge detained over a “forged” warrant to arrest President Abdulla Yameen in connection with the Maldives’ biggest corruption scandal pleaded not guilty to a terrorism charge at a hearing Tuesday.

Ahmed Nihan, senior judge of the Maamigili magistrate court, also pleaded not guilty to charges of abuse of authority, official misconduct, and forgery.

The 30-year-old was arrested on February 7 along with former Prosecutor General Muhthaz Muhsin after police claimed they had travelled to Maamigili after midnight “to seek a court order to arrest President Abdulla Yameen and topple the government.”

At the first hearing of his terrorism trial yesterday, prosecutors claimed Nihan had met with a group of people including Muhsin when they arrived in Maamigili by speedboat around 2:45am.

He then helped amend and print a forged arrest warrant in the name of the Kaafu atoll Maafushi magistrate court, the prosecutor said, adding that the document was downloaded from an email address and password provided by the former PG.

Nihan’s lawyer Husnu Suood said he could not respond to the charges as the prosecution has not provided the defence with the documents submitted as evidence.

The presiding judge assured the former attorney general that the court will hand over copies of all case documents as soon as they are submitted by the PG office.

The judge also granted the prosecution’s request to submit anonymised witnesses.

Nihan and Muhsin are accused of attempted kidnapping under the 2015 Anti-Terrorism Act. They are accused of committing an offences specified in the law for the purposes of “exerting an undesirable influence on the government or the state” and terrorising the public.

The ex-chief prosecutor is also on trial on charges of forgery and planning an unlawful arrest.

Yameen has previously said that the fraudulent warrant was part of a coup plot to overthrow his government.

The controversial anti-terror law also restricts the rights of suspects to remain silent and communicate privately with lawyers for 96 hours.

Nihan’s arrest had drawn condemnation from the International Commission of Jurists, which called it “another blow to the independence of the judiciary and the rule of law.”

ICJ’s Asia Director Sam Zarifi said Nihan’s arrest was “another step down in the country’s downward spiral away from democracy and stability, and is squarely at odds with the Maldives’ international obligations.”