After appealing former President Mohamed Nasheed’s 13-year sentence at the Supreme Court this week, the opposition leader’s lawyers are now petitioning the lower courts to secure his release from prison.
Separate cases have been filed today at the High Court and civil court. Lawyers have asked the civil court to order the home ministry and the Maldives Correctional Services to release Nasheed in light of a UN human rights panel judgment declaring his imprisonment illegal.
The High Court case involves an unresolved dispute over Nasheed’s transfer back to jail in August after two months under house arrest.
Nasheed’s lawyer Hisaan Hussain told the press today that the legal team is “seeking a solution through the judiciary” as urged by President Abdulla Yameen.
The former president’s decision to file an appeal at the apex court was a u-turn from his earlier demand for a “political solution.” After months of anti-government protests and unsuccessful negotiations with the government, President Abdulla Yameen continued to insist that Nasheed must exhaust the appeal process to be eligible for a pardon.
The decision to pursue other avenues of litigation also follows the European parliament renewing calls for Nasheed’s release last week in a resolution urging member states to impose targeted sanctions on top government officials.
The government had welcomed Nasheed’s decision to appeal the terrorism charge and said that the Supreme Court should consider the UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention’s opinion.
The government had initially rejected the WGAD judgment as “flawed and premature.”
The WGAD had said the opposition leader’s conviction was politically motivated and in violation of the Maldives’ obligations under the International Convention on Civil and Political Rights as well as the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
Nasheed’s lawyer Ibrahim Riffath noted that the Maldivian constitution requires courts to consider international treaties the Maldives is a party to in interpreting constitutional rights and freedoms.
Riffath said the lawyers hope the civil court will accept the case. The court had previously rejected the case on the grounds that Nasheed had not lodged a complaint at the prisons authority in line with the prisons and parole law.
Riffath said lawyers have now completed all procedural matters.
Lawyer Mahfooz Saeed meanwhile noted that the criminal court had also rejected a case challenging Nasheed’s re-imprisonment after two months under house arrest. The lawyers have now appealed the decision at the High Court.
Nasheed was returned to jail on August 23 after the government said that an MCS document confirming the commutation of his jail sentence to house arrest was forged.
But lawyers say a forensic analysis of the disputed document has confirmed its authenticity.
Mahfooz also stressed that Nasheed was taken back to jail after an eight-week period of temporary house arrest elapsed.
Lawyers have also expressed concern over Nasheed’s deteriorating health. He requires a surgery to correct slipped discs in his backbone. While Nasheed’s family have asked permission to travel abroad for the surgery, Home Minister Umar Naseer insists the surgery can be done in the Maldives.