Husnu Suood, the lead counsel for former President Maumoon Abdul Gayoom in the legal battle for the control for the ruling party, was summoned Tuesday to the high court and questioned over his criticism of the case.
He was questioned by an official over a remark accusing the court of discrimination and a tweet that appeared to question the high court registrar’s impartiality.
“I consider this an act of intimidation,” Suood told the Maldives Independent.
The former attorney general was told the court would summon him again if they had additional questions. He was not given a warning.
Suood was the lead counsel for Gayoom in the appeal of a civil court ruling that stripped the 78-year-old of his powers as elected leader of the Progressive Party of the Maldives and installed his half-brother and incumbent president, Abdulla Yameen, as head of the ruling party.
The ruling was challenged a day after it was issued by a man named Abbas Wafir, a member of the PPM, after Gayoom had announced his intent to contest it. The high court scheduled hearings immediately, leaving Gayoom’s lawyers in a scramble to file a third-party intervention to have their views heard in the appeal.
The appellate court upheld the ruling just three days after appeal hearings began.
The Gayoom-faction have questioned Wafir’s motives, alleging that he was a close associate of one of the two PPM MPs who had sought the civil court ruling against Gayoom, MP Mohamed Shahid.
Suood had posted on Twitter a picture of Wafir, Shahid and the high court registrar, Hassan Ali, at a restaurant. Wafir had posted the picture on his Facebook timeline.
Suood said: “I told the court I tweeted it because I was curious that the three were in the same picture.”
PPM ge massala civil court ah hushahelimeehaa, isthiunaaf kuri Meehaa, high court in massala balaigaiy registrar. pic.twitter.com/0RWgpTUn3W
— Husnu Al Suood (@hsuood) October 22, 2016
Translation: “The man who filed the PPM lawsuit at the civil court, the man who appealed it and the registrar who accepted the appeal on behalf of the high court.”
Suood was then questioned over a remark he had made to a Raajje TV reporter suggesting that the apellate court had fast-tracked the PPM leadership appeal over other cases, such as an appeal he had filed in June over the jailing of a judge and the former chief prosecutor on charges conspiring to kidnap the president with a fake warrant.
“I told them that I had filed the appeal of the president’s arrest warrant on behalf of both my clients in the first week of June, however, the court has failed to accept the case even after five months. I said that the PPM case has proceeded rather quickly compared to other cases,” he said.
Suood was not allowed legal representation at the high court.
“I think that the court will only gain respect when they start applying the same procedures for everyone,” he said.
Gayoom has meanwhile appealed the high court’s ruling at the supreme court today.
The row has split the PPM into fully-fledged rival factions.
Gayoom’s lawyers had claimed that Yameen, as advisor to the party, only held a ceremonial role and was not entitled to the party’s leadership. They also argued that the Yameen-loyalists who had filed the lawsuit against Gayoom had only asked the court to overturn Gayoom’s decision to suspend the party’s governing council and had not asked for Yameen to be installed as the head of the party.
However, Chief Judge Abdulla Didi upheld the the civil court verdict, ruling that it was right to seize control from Gayoom due to “extraordinary circumstances” arising from the 78-year-old’s refusal to convene the party’s governing council and the sacking of the party’s deputy leader.
Yameen has meanwhile called for dialogue, saying he does not wish to speak ill of his “beloved brother” in public. The split was a “big gift” to the opposition, he said.
Photo from Suood’s Facebook Timeline