The government has backtracked on its decision to extend former President Mohamed Nasheed’s medical leave in the UK, a day after granting a request for a 30-day extension.
Commissioner of Prisons Mohamed Husham told the press this afternoon that the extension was revoked after Nasheed’s lawyers denied President Abdulla Yameen’s claim that the opposition leader is due to undergo surgery tomorrow.
Home Minister Umar Naseer has also confirmed the move.
Medical leave extension granted to RN is now terminated as his lawyers confirmed that there is no surgery scheduled for him.
— Umar Naseer (@UmarNaseerPPM) April 18, 2016
Addressing supporters on the island of Gemanafushi in Gaaf Alif atoll yesterday, Yameen said the government was informed that Nasheed is due to undergo surgery on April 19.
“I don’t want to block a person’s medical treatment,” he said, adding that he did not want to bear responsibility for any mishaps if Nasheed was treated by “inferior” doctors in the Maldives.
“So I said I wish President Nasheed a speedy recovery, but come back to the Maldives after the operation,” he said.
However, Nasheed’s lawyers Hassan Latheef and Hisaan Hussain promptly told local media that the medical documents submitted to the Maldives Correctional Services made no mention of a surgery.
“Yesterday, President Nasheed was granted a 30 day extension to his medical leave, so he can undergo treatment. Shortly afterwards, President Yameen disclosed inaccurate and misleading information about President Nasheed’s treatment – in clear breach of his right to privacy. After President Yameen’s misleading remarks, President Nasheed’s lawyers publicly clarified President Nasheed’s situation but the government revoked Nasheed’s medical leave anyway,” said Latheef.
But the commissioner of prisons claimed today that the documents stated that Nasheed would undergo surgery tomorrow. The MCS is verifying the authenticity of the documents, Husham said.
Before making the u-turn, MCS spokesman Hassan Ali told The Maldives Independent earlier today that Nasheed’s request was granted after “the necessary documents were submitted through the hospital’s email address on Thursday.”
The MCS had denied the request for a 60-day extension earlier this month, 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 had 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.
A top UN official meanwhile arrived in Malé yesterday in a bid to resuscitate talks after the main opposition Maldivian Democratic Party and Adhaalath Party refused to negotiate unless the government establishes “an atmosphere of trust” by releasing their respective leaders. The parties say the government had reneged on commitments made during negotiations in July last year.
The MDP meanwhile contends that the government’s recent moves – such as the transfer of Adhaalath Party leader Sheikh Imran Abdulla from prison to house arrest – are aimed at appeasing the Commonwealth Ministerial Action Group ahead of an upcoming review of the Maldives’ progress on resolving a year-long political crisis.
Following a meeting in February, the CMAG – which monitors member states’ observance of democracy and human rights – called for inclusive dialogue and action to release detained political leaders.
Yameen has since sought the help of India, Malaysia and Pakistan to avoid “punitive action” by the Commonwealth over the widely condemned imprisonment of opposition leaders.
The CMAG – comprised of a rotating group of foreign ministers from eight member states – is due to review the Maldives’ progress on April 21.
Additional writing by Ahmed Naish.