Explosive allegations of corruption were levelled against suspended Supreme Court Justice Abdulla Didi by the Judicial Service Commission at a public hearing in Malé on Thursday.
Didi is suspected of regularly taking bribes, releasing criminal suspects in return for favours and seeking government job opportunities for members of his family, including his wife, the former deputy ambassador to Malaysia, who was dismissed this week.
The hearing began with Thulhaadhoo MP Hisaan Hussain, from the JSC, reading out a letter detailing the allegations being made against Didi.
“The police service uncovered information relating to the Supreme Court Justice Abdulla Didi during the interrogation of ‘Suspect One’, who is alleged to have been involved in the corruption of the Maldives Marketing and Public Relations Corporations,” she said.
Information relating to the suspected criminal activities of Didi were uncovered during the investigation of the $90 million embezzlement of resort acquisition fees by Maldives Marketing and Public Relations Corporation, the JSC said they had been told by the police.
“The police service uncovered information relating to Supreme Court Justice Abdulla Didi during the interrogation of ‘Suspect One’, who is alleged to have been involved in the corruption of the Maldives Marketing and Public Relations Corporation,” Hisaan said, adding: “Information and evidence relating to Justice Didi was also given to the police investigation by ‘Witness One’.”
Didi received stolen money from the MVR1.3 billion MMPRC corruption scam on several occasions, Witness One told police.
The public yesterday also heard that Didi had met with Suspect One frequently in his car and at isolated locations and that Didi had requested money in US dollars. Witness One had personally handed the money to Didi, according to the police.
“In a text message to Suspect One [sent in 2016], Didi asked for US dollars from Suspect One because he was flying out of the country. In a second and third text message, Didi wrote the amount and how to hand over the money,” Hisaan said.
At one point in 2016, Suspect One asked Didi to release criminal suspects Mohamed Suvaid and Abdulla Haisham, the JSC said they had been told by the police. Suvaid was freed when he was taken before the Criminal Court for remand, where Didi used to work, while Shuaib was released five days later.
In the text messages sent from Didi’s phone, it was revealed that Didi had asked Suspect One to arrange government jobs for members of his family. He requested that his wife, Ghaniya Abdul Ghafoor, be made deputy ambassador to Malaysia, the police said.
“Please look into the job opportunity at the Malaysian embassy for me. Brother. I personally look into things you ask from me. The situation of my family and four children will be better if the job is arranged. I kindly remind you that my help and assistance will always be available to you,” Hisaan said, quoting what police said was in a text message from Didi.
Speaking at the hearing on Thursday, Didi denied the allegations made against him.
“I have never been involved in an act of bribery. I never gained anything by influence. I have not done anything unlawful,” he said.
Didi and his team of lawyers, who included former vice president Abdulla Jameel Ahmed, refused to answer questions relating to the investigation from the committee bench.
“Didi like any other citizen of the country has the right to just administrative actions,” Jameel said. “The letter which the committee read out just now was handed over to the bench 10 minutes ago. The text messages you are referring to are simply words on a piece of paper to us at this point. We need a chance to analyse the evidence and respond accordingly.”
The committee and the defence team argued about procedure for some three hours. The judicial watchdog eventually refused to give the lawyers more time, while Didi refused to answer questions “unless given adequate time to prepare”.
As proceedings became more heated, Jameel and Mohamed Saleem began calling for the resignation of three members of the bench, while three people in the audience had to be removed for shouting.
Saleem said Hisaan and JSC members Masthoor Husnee and Attorney General Ibrahim Riffath should not participate in the investigation because of a conflict of interest.
“This case was submitted to the commission by former president Mohamed Nasheed, whom my client sentenced in 2015. This allegation against Didi was submitted to the commission by Nasheed. The three of you represented Nasheed at his trial. We believe that you have a personal interest in the matter and ask you to excuse yourselves from the investigation,” he said.
Didi is also suspected of taking a US$1 million bribe to sentence Nasheed to 13 years in jail.
The JSC committee rejected the argument that three of its members needed to be recused and gave Didi five days to submit his written response to the allegations that had been made against him.
An investigative committee formed by the JSC suspended Didi last week because of the criminal allegations that had been made against him.