Former President Mohamed Nasheed was brought to Malé today for a dispute resolution meeting in a lawsuit filed by his brother against the prisons authority over denial of visiting rights.
Ahmed Nazim Sattar had sued the Maldives Correctional Services at the civil court over what he contends was an arbitrary decision to limit Nasheed’s weekly family visits to his parents, wife and children.
The court arranged the dispute resolution meeting to see if the parties could reach a settlement without a trial.
Nazim told the press after today’s meeting that the court has scheduled a second meeting for 1:30pm on Sunday after the parties were unable to resolve the dispute. Lawyers from the attorney general’s office represented the MCS.
“The regulation for unit 10 says family members can visit once a week. It doesn’t specify which family members,” he said.
Nasheed is kept at a special protection unit at the high-security prison on the island of Maafushi.
Nasheed had joined the case as a third party. A previous meeting scheduled for 12:40pm last Thursday was cancelled after the MCS failed to bring the opposition leader to Malé.
A prisons spokesperson said the MCS was unable to comply on short notice as it had received the court order in the morning. Maafushi is an hour away from the capital.
The prisons spokesman previously said that recently compiled regulations for the special protection units – where high-profile prisoners including the former president and two defence ministers are held – allow weekly family visits by immediate family members.
The Maldives Independent has learnt that while Nasheed’s visits are limited to his parents, wife and daughters, other prisoners in the special protection units are allowed visits from siblings.
Before the meeting at the civil court, Nasheed was taken to the ADK hospital for a doctor’s appointment at noon. His lawyers were not informed that the consultation would take place.
Family members and opposition supporters rushed to the private hospital when news of the opposition leader’s presence spread on social media.
Nasheed was surrounded by prison guards, who shoved family members aside and quickly escorted him out after the consultation and took him to the civil court.
Opposition supporters also gathered outside the civil court, but police officers pushed them back to the local market and cleared the area.
Nasheed’s lawyers have meanwhile complained over infrequent access. Lawyers have not been able to meet the former president since October 1.
Nasheed was convicted of terrorism in March and sentenced to 13 years in jail. He was found guilty of ordering the arrest of a judge during his tenure. A UN human rights panel ruled last month that his imprisonment was illegal and called for his immediate release.
But the government criticised the UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention’s (WGAD) judgment as “flawed and premature” and rejected the “non-binding opinion.”
The government now says the Supreme Court will have to consider the WGAD opinion and decide whether Nasheed was given a fair trial in accordance with the Maldives’ obligations under the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.
The prosecutor general (PG) had filed an appeal at the Supreme Court after the High Court decided it could not hear the case since it was not filed by Nasheed.
The state’s appeal was filed on September 17. The PG office told local media today that it has not yet been informed whether the apex court has decided to accept the appeal.
Nasheed’s Maldivian Democratic Party has meanwhile called for a nationwide mass demonstration on November 6. After a three-month hiatus during which negotiations with the government failed to secure Nasheed’s release, the main opposition party resumed its anti-government campaign last month with rallies, street gatherings and protest marches.