The High Court has refused to share case documents with former President Mohamed Nasheed ahead of a preliminary hearing to decide whether to accept the prosecutor general’s (PG) appeal of the opposition leader’s conviction on terrorism charges.
The former president’s office revealed in a statement today that the High Court has scheduled the hearing for 2:00pm tomorrow. The appellate court declined Nasheed’s request to send him the case documents and to provide sufficient time to review the PG’s appeal.
The High Court asking Nasheed to respond at a preliminary hearing without providing the documents and offering enough time to consult with lawyers is “unacceptable,” the former president’s office said.
The statement called on the High Court to assure Nasheed’s constitutional rights to legal counsel and to have adequate time and facilities to prepare a defence.
The former president’s high-profile international lawyer, Amal Clooney, meanwhile arrived in the Maldives yesterday and was meeting Nasheed at the Maafushi jail at the time of publication. Her colleague Jared Genser, the founder of the renowned campaign group for political prisoners Freedom Now, is due to arrive on Wednesday.
The opposition leader was found guilty of terrorism in March over the military’s detention of criminal court chief judge Abdulla Mohamed in January 2012. The 19-day trial at the criminal court was widely criticised over its apparent lack of due process.
Nasheed was taken back to the high-security Maafushi jail on August 23 after two months under house arrest, prompting the UN human rights chief as well as the American and British governments to renew calls for his release.
Nasheed was taken back to jail amid a dispute over a document purportedly from the Maldives Correctional Services commuting his 13-year jail sentence to permanent house arrest.
The police are now investigating the document – which bore the state seal, a reference number, and the signature of a prisons official – after the government dismissed it as a “forgery.”
High Court spokesperson Amin Faisal told The Maldives Independent on Sunday that Nasheed’s lawyers would be offered the opportunity to present arguments along with the PG and persuade the court to accept the appeal.
“The court has informed Nasheed that he or someone whom he appoints as his legal representative has the opportunity to participate in the preliminary proceedings,” he said.
The PG office announced its intention to appeal the 13-year jail sentence on July 23 amid negotiations between the government and Nasheed’s Maldivian Democratic Party. The main opposition party has since withdrawn from the talks following Nasheed’s transfer back to jail, citing the government’s refusal to honour its commitment to release Nasheed and other jailed opposition politicians.