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Maldives judge closes hearing for Faris ‘torture video’

The son of the former strongman president has been declared a prisoner of conscience.



A Maldives judge Wednesday closed a hearing so that a video alleging to show the prison torture of Faris Maumoon could be shown to the court.

The lawmaker for Dhiggaru is on trial for terrorism in connection with an alleged coup plot to overthrow the government of his uncle, President Abdulla Yameen. He has denied the charge.

Prosecutors requested to close part of Wednesday’s hearing to show a video to disprove torture allegations made by the defence legal team.

The video shows a prison cell and surrounding areas in the Dhoonidhoo detention facility and making it public could harm national security, assistant prosecutor general Aishath Fazna said.

She claimed the video shows Faris walking out of his cell to the investigation room, rather than being dragged out as claimed by the defence.

Referring to the constitution and the criminal procedures law, she asked Judge Ahmed Hailam to close the rest of the hearing as publicly showing the video “may harm national and social security.”

Defence lawyer Ibrahim Shameel insisted the video contained nothing that could endanger national security and objected to a closed-door hearing.

But Hailam decided in favour of the prosecution and the defence attorney requested to withdraw a motion if the video was to be shown in secret.

The pretrial motion was raised to cancel the terror charge on the grounds that an unlawful investigation was carried out by torturing Faris.

– Prisoner of conscience –

Hailam rejected a second motion, also discussed at the hearing, to reject a crime scene report of a raid on the MP’s house and the statement of the police officer who prepared the report.

Defence lawyers said the report and statement should not be accepted as evidence because the police had failed to comply with standard operating procedures published in 2009.

But the prosecutor shared a police manual from 2015 – an “international standard guide for police forensics” – which does not make it compulsory to take videos of the crime scene.

At a previous hearing, Hailam rejected 28 pretrial motions raised by the defence. He announced that the terror trial for Faris would proceed with five other defendants.

Faris faces a prison term of up to 20 years if convicted of terrorism. He will also lose his seat in the People’s Majlis (parliament).

He was earlier this month declared a prisoner of conscience by rights group Amnesty International.

He has been convicted of identity fraud and sentenced to four months in prison for misusing the flag and logo of the ruling party at an opposition press conference.

On Tuesday night, the opposition coalition praised Faris for his courage in going forward with reform efforts despite being behind bars.

July 18 marks a year since Faris was detained on a charge of bribing lawmakers.

“Although Faris is forced to stay away from his family, especially his son, he is always with the Maldivian people to save them from this tyranny,” a joint opposition statement read.

Faris’ father is former strongman president Maumoon Abdul Gayoom, who is also in prison.

He was sentenced to 19 months in prison after he was found guilty of obstructing justice. He has denied all the charges against him.