The Maldives government has granted lawyers access to former President Mohamed Nasheed, four days after he was returned to a high security prison on Maafushi Island.
Nasheed’s lawyers boarded a speedboat to Maafushi at 3:30pm today.
Hassan Latheef, a member of the legal team, said the Maldives Correctional Services (MCS) had refused to grant access until acting Home Minister Mohamed Shainee authorized the visit.
Lawyers spent the day at the Malé jail for the past four days, waiting for permission.
Nasheed was re-imprisoned eight weeks after the government commuted his 13-year jail term to house arrest. The government now denies authorizing the transfer and claims an official document publicized by the former president on the commutation was forged.
Lawyers have raised concern over the delay in visiting Nasheed, and said they worry for his health.
“We are deeply concerned with President Nasheed’s health and we don’t know his status now. It is worrying that the government publicly refuses to adhere to doctors recommendations,” Latheef said.
Nasheed was first transferred to house arrest on the doctor’s recommendation for a stress-free environment. The period was later extended and the sentence commuted amid talks between the main opposition Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) and the government on political reconciliation.
An MCS spokesperson today said there was “no particular reason for the delay,” and denied having told lawyers they were waiting on permission from the home minister.
“We serve on a first come first serve basis. Plus it is unlikely that a meeting could be set up immediately because of the number of requests,” said Moosa Rameez, the MCS spokesman.
The MCS does not have set rules on prisoners’ access to lawyers.
Contradicting Rameez’s statements, Thazmeel Abdul Samad, the spokesman for the home ministry, said the visit had been approved by the home minister.
“The Home Minister had granted the meeting as soon as he got the request.”
Meanwhile, a group of 13 forensic officers last night raided Nasheed’s residence, as part of the investigation into the authenticity of the disputed official documents.
Nasheed’s family and lawyers labeled the six-hour midnight search “harassment.”
The police left Nasheed’s home at 4am with the CCTV footage recording system.
The opposition leader’s lawyers on Tuesday shared with the police footage of the state official who had delivered the document to Nasheed on July 19.
The UN, the American and British governments have renewed calls for Nasheed’s release.