The civil court has thrown out a petition by former President Mohamed Nasheed requesting his immediate release in line with a UN human rights panel ruling. The court claimed it had no jurisdiction, according to lawyers.
Nasheed, who was convicted to 13 years in jail on a terrorism charge, is now seeking a “judicial remedy” as urged by President Abdulla Yameen.
Yameen has refused to negotiate the opposition leader’s release despite historic mass protests and the UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention’s opinion that Nasheed’s trial and imprisonment was politically motivated.
“The court said that Nasheed is being detained legally and said that the case was not in their jurisdiction. So President Nasheed’s local and international lawyers are currently discussing how we can proceed with the case,” said lawyer Ibrahim Riffath.
Nasheed’s lawyers also filed an appeal at the Supreme Court arguing that the offence he was sentenced for – the arrest of a judge in the last days of his presidency – does not constitute terrorism. It is not clear if and when hearings would begin.
The apex court has signalled that it would hear the prosecutor general’s separate appeal of the sentence. The PG is appealing on different grounds and has asked the court to review if Nasheed’s rights were violated during the criminal court proceedings.
Police are meanwhile investigating a document that states Nasheed’s jail term was commuted to house arrest. The government claims the document was forged. But independent forensic analysis shows the document is authentic, his lawyers have said.
Lawyer Hassan Latheef and his brother Ibrahim Nashid were summoned for questions last week and asked to identify the state employee who delivered the letter.
Nasheed’s lawyers contend his return to jail in August following two months of house arrest was illegal. The jail term was commuted as part of talks on political reconciliation, during which the main opposition Maldivian Democratic Party backed several government-proposed constitutional amendments. Nasheed’s transfer to house arrest for the talks was authorised by Yameen.
The MDP withdrew from the stalled talks after Nasheed’s re-imprisonment, accusing the government of failing to honour its commitments.
Nasheed’s office has repeatedly called on the government to honour the commutation, and have lodged a separate case at the High Court asking for an order to enforce the commutation.
The criminal court had previously rejected a petition by lawyers challenging the legality of his re-imprisonment.
Lawyers are also urging Nasheed’s transfer to home-imprisonment as doctors have recommended a surgery to correct slipped discs in his backbone. The former president needs physiotherapy and exercise before the surgery and such services are not available in his cell, Hassan Latheef has said.
Lawyers have also requested the Maldives Correctional Services to allow Nasheed to travel abroad for the surgery, but the Home Ministry has denied the request saying the surgery can be carried out in the Maldives.