Former defence minister Ameen Faisal, charged over the military’s “protective custody” of then-MP Abdulla Yameen, has been given a week to prepare the closing arguments in his terrorism trial.
Ameen, who served under former president Mohamed Nasheed, was charged with abduction under the now-defunct 1990 Anti-Terrorism Act. He faces up to 15 years in jail if found guilty.
Tuesday’s hearing was held to present closing arguments, but the defence attorney requested additional time.
“I request the court for more time to prepare the closing arguments as I was appointed as the legal counsel for the defence just today,” lawyer Mohamed Fawwaz told Judge Ibrahim Ali.
Judge Ali granted the request but did not announce a date for the next hearing.
Ameen’s former attorney, Abdulla Haseen, is suspended for being one of the 54 signatories to a petition calling for judicial reform.
Ameen, who also served as national security advisor to Nasheed’s administration, is accused of keeping Yameen “under military protection” against his wishes for nine days at the presidential retreat island in July 2010, during which time he was denied freedom of movement.
In a police statement given in September 2016, Yameen expressed his wish to seek charges over the “unlawful arrest”.
He told police that former Chief of Defence Forces Moosa Ali Jaleel called him on July 14, 2010, and offered him protection at military headquarters because protesters were throwing rocks and bottles at his home in Malé.
Leaked recordings of phone calls between Yameen and other lawmakers implicating them in apparent bribery had triggered unrest in the capital and violent clashes erupted between pro-government and opposition supporters outside his home.
Yameen, who was at the home of fellow People’s Alliance MP Ahmed Nazim at the time, asked Jaleel to provide security for his wife and children, according to the statement.
He also asked Jaleel to arrange for a short stay at a nearby resort, but the army chief denied the request and told him soldiers would have to break down Nazim’s door and take him into custody if he did not comply.
He was then taken to the military headquarters and moved to the presidential retreat Aarah near Malé the next day, where he was housed in a bungalow and asked not to move more than 100 feet away.
Yameen was able to communicate freely with diplomats, ambassadors, and the media from his phone.
On his sixth day in Aarah, following the visit of US Assistant Secretary of State Robert Blake to the Maldives, Yameen was allowed to meet with his family for an hour or two every day. He also met lawyers for 45 minutes a day.