The government is reconsidering its decision to revoke a 30-day extension of former President Mohamed Nasheed’s medical leave in the UK.
Home Minister Umar Naseer said in a tweet this morning that he has asked the Maldives Correctional Services’ medical board to review Nasheed’s case.
Due to the confusion created by RN’s lawyers, I hv submitted the case for review to the Med Board of MCS for reconsideration of med leave.
— Umar Naseer (@UmarNaseerPPM) April 20, 2016
On Monday – a day after granting a 30-day extension for Nasheed to undergo treatment for a chronic back problem – the MCS announced that it has revoked the extension after the opposition leader’s lawyers denied President Abdulla Yameen’s claim that he was due to undergo surgery on April 19.
Lawyers said that medical documents submitted to the MCS made no mention of a surgery.
Nasheed’s lawyer Hassan Latheef told The Maldives Independent at the time that shortly after the 30-day extension was granted, “President Yameen disclosed inaccurate and misleading information about President Nasheed’s treatment – in clear breach of his right to privacy.”
The lawyers publicly clarified Nasheed’s situation after Yameen’s “misleading remarks,” Latheef said, adding that “the government had revoked Nasheed’s medical leave anyway.”
Latheef told The Maldives Independent today that the lawyers have yet to be formally notified of the decision to revoke the extension.
“We have not been informed any such thing in writing, all we saw is Umar Naseer’s tweet and the press conference by prison officials,” he said.
The legal team declined to comment “for the moment” on the home minister’s tweet this morning.
The government had authorised a 30-day medical leave for Nasheed in January in a deal brokered by Sri Lanka, India, the UK and US. The move followed threats from the EU parliament and the UK of targeted sanctions against top government officials.
The former president’s office meanwhile said in a statement yesterday that Nasheed underwent a medical procedure to alleviate a back problem arising from slipped discs in his spine.
Nasheed was under anesthesia when the procedure was performed yesterday, the statement noted, but did not reveal any further details.
It is unclear whether Yameen was referring to the medical procedure when he said Nasheed was due to be “admitted for surgery.”
Before the government’s u-turn on the medical leave, MCS spokesman Hassan Ali told The Maldives Independent that Nasheed’s request for an extension was granted after “the necessary documents were submitted through the hospital’s email address on Thursday.”
The MCS had previously denied a request for a 60-day extension, citing incomplete documents submitted by his lawyers, and ordered the opposition leader to return to the Maldives to serve the remainder of his 13-year jail sentence.
After lawyers initially submitted a doctor’s letter with all the required details, the MCS had asked for four separate documents, including a doctor’s letter confirming the need for further medical attention, proof of hospitalisation, an estimate of the time period required for treatment and status of health.
Prison doctors last year recommended Nasheed undergo a surgery to correct slipped discs in his spine, but lawyers said Nasheed prefers physical therapy over surgery and that a period of six months would be required for recovery. The opposition leader has also indicated that he may not return to the Maldives until he is released.
The Supreme Court wrapped up hearings in the state’s appeal of Nasheed’s terrorism conviction in February. It is unclear when a verdict will be delivered.
Nasheed was found guilty of ordering the “abduction” of a judge after a widely criticised trial in March last year and sentenced to 13 years in prison.
A UN rights panel has since ruled that his jailing was illegal and politically motivated. The UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention also rejected the government’s appeal “without comment,” according to Nasheed’s lawyers.
Earlier this month, the US senate unanimously adopted a bipartisan resolution calling on the Maldivian government to redress the “injustice” of Nasheed’s imprisonment.
Since his arrival in the UK, Nasheed has urged foreign governments to place targeted sanctions on top government officials. He also met with UK Prime Minister David Cameron, Commonwealth Secretary General Kamalesh Sharma, and appeared on CNN, BBC and Channel 4 to talk about his imprisonment and the recruitment of Maldivians by extremist groups.
Criticising Nasheed’s media blitz, Foreign Minister Dunya Maumoon had said that the former president’s “primary goal was to court publicity in the United Kingdom.”
“This is not medical leave, but media leave,” she said.
But Nasheed told the British press that his medical condition is “serious.”
“In my 20s, I was tortured twice by the Gayoom regime. So I have chronic back problem,” he said, referring to long periods in prison during the 30-year reign of former President Maumoon Abdul Gayoom – Dunya’s father and half-brother of the incumbent president.