Former President Mohamed Nasheed’s lawyers have been blocked from prison visits ahead of a mass opposition protest scheduled for Friday.
Complaining over infrequent access, lawyer Safa Shareef said lawyers had been allowed to visit the opposition leader only four times since his re-imprisonment in August. A meeting scheduled for November 19 has been rescheduled for November 28, she added.
Nasheed was sentenced to 13 years in jail on a terrorism charge. The UN’s Working Group on Arbitrary Detention has since ruled his imprisonment arbitrary and illegal. The government has rejected the ruling, saying only the Supreme Court can release the opposition leader.
An appeal is before the apex court, but it has not made a decision on hearing the appeal.
The protest on November 27 is aimed at pressuring President Abdulla Yameen to release Nasheed and other political prisoners, including former defence minister Mohamed Nazim.
Hisaan Hussein, another member of the legal team, said the Maldives Correctional Services have refused to release Nasheed’s medical records despite repeated requests.
MCS had asked Nasheed to hand over 52 blank papers to make photocopies.
“When president Nasheed’s family and legal team attempted to deliver the A4 size papers to MCS, they refused to accept them, insisting president Nasheed must buy them on his own from a shop at Maafushi jail that’s only open on Thursdays,” she explained.
Nasheed, who suffers from chronic back pain from torture in prison in the 1990s, has been brought to Male’ several times since his arrest for doctor’s consultations.
Nasheed’s family members have repeatedly accused MCS of blocking Nasheed from exercising, but the prisons spokesman has denied the claim.
Lawyer Ibrahim Riffath meanwhile revealed that the civil court has rejected Nasheed’s request for a ruling ordering the Maldivian state to comply with the WGAD’s ruling.
The court said Nasheed must file the request with the Commissioner or Prisons. Prisons rules do not allow lawyers to make submission on his behalf.
“We are unable to advise our client on the matter because MCS is preventing us from meeting him,” Riffath said.
Lawyers also expressed concern today over a floodlight aimed at Nasheed’s cell which they say is depriving him of sleep. His family has said the floodlight, lit throughout the night, amounts to torture.
Nasheed’s lawyer Hassan Latheef meanwhile remains barred from prison visits after he posted messages from the opposition leader, addressed to Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, on Twitter.
In late May, the home minister complained that Nasheed’s lawyers were “having fun, laughing and joking, and entertaining him” during visits to the Maafushi jail.
The home ministry abruptly cut off visits from extended family and siblings in August. In October, his siblings lodged a complaint with the civil court and won rights to weekly visits.