Vice president’s impeachment ‘unconstitutional,’ contends lawyer

Vice president’s impeachment ‘unconstitutional,’ contends lawyer
November 06 10:14 2015

The parliament’s impeachment of detained Vice President Ahmed Adeeb yesterday was “unconstitutional,” his lawyer Hussain Shameem contends.

In a decree declaring a nationwide state of emergency on Wednesday, President Abdulla Yameen reduced the constitutionally-mandated period for the vice president to respond to charges from 14 days to seven days.

“That was unconstitutional. And there is no way a detained person can attend the parliament unless the police brings him,” Shameem told reporters upon arriving in Malé from Sri Lanka last night.

Shameem said Adeeb was not informed that the 14-day period had been shortened and was not allowed to defend himself at yesterday’s sitting of parliament.

“If the period has been shortened to seven days and the constitution has been changed, the [People’s] Majlis will have to give a new seven-day notice,” he argued.

Speaker Abdulla Maseeh Mohamed had claimed that Adeeb was notified that the impeachment vote would take place on Thursday.

The constitution guarantees the vice president the right to respond either orally or in writing, “but to this day, he has not responded and he has not attended the Majlis today,” Maseeh said.

Adeeb was arrested on suspicion of links to a blast on the president’s speedboat.

He denies any involvement with the explosion on the “Finifenma” speedboat on September 28, which the government says was caused by a bomb targeting the president.

Shameem also said the former vice president’s legal team will consider challenging the legality of the impeachment vote at the Supreme Court.

However, on the eve of the impeachment vote, the Supreme Court had barred Shameem from appearing in any Maldivian court, pending an investigation into multiple alleged breaches of regulations governing lawyers’ conduct.

Several prominent lawyers as well as the main opposition Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) have argued that the president does not have the power to amend the constitution by imposing a state of emergency.

In a statement expressing concern over the declaration of a state of emergency, Transparency International also said the reduction of the 14-day period in the president’s decree indicates the “arbitrary and politically motivated nature of this decision.”

Under article 254, a state of emergency “may include the temporary suspension of the operation of laws and infringement of certain fundamental rights and freedoms guaranteed by this constitution in chapter two.”

Article 100(d), which requires a 14-day notice before voting on an impeachment motion, is not in the bill of rights chapter.

Moreover, article 267 states that amendments cannot be made to any constitutional provision during a state of emergency.

Home Minister Umar Naseer meanwhile told the AP yesterday that Adeeb will be prosecuted under the controversial new Anti-Terrorism Act.

“Now the vice president is out of office and we will charge him under the recent terrorism law,” Naseer said.

Adeeb is also facing prosecution on charges of weapons smuggling and bribing police intelligence officers.

Chief Superintendent of Police Hamdhoon Rasheed told the press yesterday that police intelligence reports were found in Adeeb’s apartment.

Shameem said Adeeb had explained why the reports were in his apartment during the police interrogation.

“The vice president explained in full detail who brought the reports and how it got to be in his apartment. Even the president knows about the reports,” he said.

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