Former President Mohamed Nasheed’s lawyers have requested the criminal court to rule his transfer from house arrest to a high security prison as illegal and arbitrary.
The petition was filed at 8:30am today.
Hisaan Hussein, a member of Nasheed’s legal team, said she is uncertain if the court would accept the case. “But usually when a person files an order rule an arrest arbitrary, it is taken very seriously and is immediately accepted by the court.”
Lawyers are also awaiting an opportunity to visit Nasheed in prison.
We've this morning submitted our request to meet with President Nasheed & to grant him access to his lawyers. Waiting for a response.
— Hisaan (@hisaanhussain) August 24, 2015
Nasheed was taken back to jail by prison officers acting with Specialist Operations (SO) police officers last night, eight weeks after he was transferred to house arrest amid negotiations for an end to a prolonged political crisis.
Maldives Correctional Services (MCS) officers entered the former president’s residence in Malé around 8:30pm last night, but his lawyers objected to what they said would be an “arbitrary arrest.”
Lawyers showed the officers a copy of an official document, dated July 19, showing his 13-year jail sentence had been permanently commuted to house arrest.
The government, however, denies having commuted the sentence.
Police officers broke down the front gate and pepper sprayed Nasheed’s family members, a Raajje TV journalist, several MDP MPs and dozens of opposition supporters before escorting Nasheed back to jail.
The MCS document appears to be an agreement signed by Nasheed to abide by the terms of the house arrest for the rest of his sentence on terrorism charges. It was signed by an unnamed individual and contained the state seal.
According to lawyers, it was handed to Nasheed by an MCS staff in the presence of members of his family and lawyers.
“It was during the enforcement of this temporary house arrest I came to know that the remaining days of the judgment against me would be enforced as permanent house arrest, starting from 19 July 2015. Furthermore, during the enforcement of house arrest, I hereby agree not to violate any laws and understand that such arrestees are forbidden from leaving house. Moreover, I also understand that this service has the discretion to file a new case against me at court if I do not comply,” the agreement signed by Nasheed said.
Nasheed had previously signed similar agreements, when the home ministry first transferred him to house arrest on June 19 and then extended his house arrest for eight weeks on June 23.
In a press statement on Sunday night, the MCS denied issuing a commutation, and said Nasheed had been taken back to prison when an eight-week period of house arrest expired on August 21.
A spokesman for the Maldivian High Commission in Colombo, Sri Lanka, Hussain Mazin, who on July 24 had confirmed Nasheed’s transfer to house arrest to the Agence France-Presse (AFP), today told The Maldives Independent that he had never made such a comment.
“This latest u-turn by the government shows its complete disregard for the rule of law. After subjecting Nasheed to an unfair trial and outrageous conviction, this capricious administration has now reversed its decision on house arrest. They have the audacity to claim that there was no commutation of Nasheed’s sentence even though we have official documents and public statements confirming the opposite,” said Amal Clooney, a member of Nasheed’s international legal team.
“When the government decides the document is non-existent, and takes back President Nasheed, it is unacceptable and illegal. This is not done by any government anywhere,” Hassan Latheef, a lawyer representing Nasheed, said at a midnight press conference last night.
“We never thought we could not trust the official documents provided by the government,” Hisaan said.
Nasheed was sentenced to jail over the arrest of a judge during his tenure. The trial has been widely criticized for lack of due process.
His transfer to house arrest was part of a deal with the government in exchange for the MDP’s backing for several crucial votes in parliament, including the impeachment of Vice President Dr Mohamed Jameel Ahmed.
World leaders including UK Prime Minister David Cameron have called for Nasheed’s release.
The UN working group on arbitrary detention will rule on the legality of Nasheed’s imprisonment in September or October.