State yet to appeal Nasheed’s terrorism conviction

State yet to appeal Nasheed’s terrorism conviction
August 10 15:15 2015

The Prosecutor General’s (PG) Office is yet to appeal former President Mohamed Nasheed’s terrorism conviction, despite nearly three weeks passing since the announcement of intent to appeal.

Ahmed Nihan, the spokesperson at the PG office, said: “We have not yet submitted to appeal the case. It is still in the research stage.”

Nasheed’s lawyers declined to comment.

Nasheed was found guilty on terrorism charges over the military’s detention of criminal court chief judge Abdulla Mohamed in January 2012.

His 13 year jail term was commuted to house arrest on July 19.

The PG office’s announcement on July 23 came amidst rumors that President Abdulla Yameen would pardon Nasheed as part of a deal struck between the government and the Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP).

In a brief statement the PG said: “As various parties are raising questions about how the trial proceeded, and as Mohamed Nasheed has said his rights were violated, and that he did not have sufficient time to prepare for the case, and that he did not receive the case documents for an appeal, and since Mohamed Nasheed has asked the prosecutor general to appeal the case, the Prosecutor General’s office has decided to appeal the terrorism conviction against Mohamed Nasheed at the Maldives’ High Court under authority granted to the prosecutor general by article 233(i) of the Maldives’ constitution.”

On June 20, President Yameen rejected Nasheed’s appeal for clemency, urging him to exhaust all appeal processes first. The opposition leader’s lawyers say that the Clemency Act grants the president the discretion, on the president’s own initiative, to commute the sentence of any individual convicted of a criminal offence.

The next day, Nasheed was transferred to house arrest for eight weeks.

The MDP and the government subsequently began talks on clemency for Nasheed and other jailed politicians and withdrawal of charges against some 1,400 opposition supporters.

The opposition has backed several government proposals in hope of freedom for Nasheed, including the impeachment of vice president Dr Mohamed Jameel and a constitutional amendment setting new age limits 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.

The UN working group on arbitrary detention is expected to rule on Nasheed’s imprisonment in September or October. In a response to the UN, the government insisted Nasheed must appeal the sentence.

The opposition leader’s lawyers maintain they have no legal avenue to file an appeal as the Supreme Court had shortened a 90-day appeal period to 10 days, weeks before Nasheed’s trial began.

The High Court, citing lateness, last month rejected an appeal filed by the Prosecutor General over a murder acquittal. Public prosecutors blamed the delay on the criminal court’s failure to issue a trial record, as had happened in Nasheed’s case.

UK Prime Minister David Cameron, the European parliament, and influential US Senators have called for Nasheed’s immediate release.