Opposition MP charged with terrorism

Opposition MP charged with terrorism
July 04 15:29 2017

MP Ibrahim Mohamed Didi of the main opposition Maldivian Democratic Party is facing trial on a terrorism charge over the military’s detention of the criminal court’s former chief judge in January 2012.

Didi, who was the military’s Malé area commander at the time, was previously put on trial along with former President Mohamed Nasheed in early 2015.

But the Prosecutor General’s office withdrew the case in July 2015 before the court was due to hear witnesses. The move followed the acquittal of former Chief of Defence Forces Moosa Ali Jaleel and former Colonel Mohamed Ziyad on the same terrorism charge.

The PG office spokesman was not responding to calls as of press time. According to local media, the case was filed at the criminal court on May 25.

If found guilty, Didi could be sentenced to jail for up to 15 years. He would also lose his parliament seat. The retired brigadier general represents the mid-Hithadhoo constituency in Addu atoll.

“Even if I was hanged, there is no way I will betray the people who elected me,” Didi tweeted after the news broke Tuesday afternoon.

The fresh charges come amidst renewed political tension with the opposition seeking to remove Speaker Abdulla Maseeh Mohamed after wresting the parliament’s majority from President Abdulla Yameen.

Didi’s trial in early 2015 was stalled following his hospitalisation over heart issues on March 1. The criminal court did not schedule further hearings and the lawmaker flew overseas for medical treatment.

Speaking to reporters after the first hearing, Didi had asked whether the terrorism trial was his reward for risking his life in defence of the nation during the failed coup attempt of November 3, 1988. The coup was staged by a group of Maldivians and Tamil mercenaries.

Didi – a corporal and former President Maumoon Abdul Gayoom’s bodyguard at the time – played a pivotal role on November 3 by carrying the keys of the armoury from Machangoalhi Kinbigasdhoshuge to the besieged military headquarters before soldiers ran out of ammunition.

In March 2015, former President Nasheed was meanwhile found guilty of ordering Judge Abdulla Mohamed’s “abduction” and sentenced to 13 years in jail. The opposition leader’s 19-day trial was widely condemned over apparent due process violations. In September 2015, a UN rights panel ruled that his imprisonment was illegal and politically motivated.

Then-Defence Minister Tholhath Ibrahim Kaleyfan was also convicted and sentenced to 10 years over the judge’s three-week detention on the military training base on the island of Girifushi.

The judge’s controversial arrest was part of an operation dubbed Liberty Shield overseen by then-Brigadier General Didi.

The arrest sparked 22 nights of anti-government protests that culminated in Nasheed’s resignation in the wake of a violent mutiny by elements of the police and army on February 7, 2012.