Former President Mohamed Nasheed has asked the High Court for an opportunity to consult with lawyers ahead of preliminary hearings of the prosecutor general’s (PG) appeal of his conviction on terrorism charges.
The office of the former president explained in a statement today that the High Court had informed Nasheed in a letter sent on September 2 that he could participate in the hearings as “legal points made by President Nasheed were also included by the PG’s appeal.” The hearings are to be held to determine whether the court will hear the case.
The High Court asked for a decision before 2:00pm today, but the statement noted that the former president had only 24 hours to reply to the letter as the two days after it was delivered fell on the weekend.
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.
Ibrahim Riffath, a member of Nasheed’s legal team, told The Maldives Independent that a reply has been sent today requesting the court to send the case documents to Nasheed and to provide sufficient time to review the PG’s appeal with his legal counsel, including his international lawyers.
Nasheed’s high-profile international lawyers, Amal Clooney and Jared Genser, are due to arrive in the Maldives tomorrow to visit their client in prison.
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.
The statement from the former president’s office meanwhile stressed that a reply was sent to the High Court today after verifying the authenticity of the court’s letter. 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 today 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.
Meanwhile, a member of Nasheed’s legal team, Mahfooz Saeed, was brutally stabbed by two men on a busy street of Malé around 5:00pm on Friday. The 26-year-old narrowly survived the life-threatening attack after undergoing surgery to remove the knife lodged three and a half inches deep above his left ear. He is recovering at the Indira Gandhi Memorial Hospital.