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Maldives: More on the Farcical Trial of Nasheed

Paper No. 5888                               Dated 7-Mar-2015

By Dr. S. Chandrasekharan

Latest media reports indicate that Indian Prime Minister Modi will be skipping Maldives in his tour of the island nations in the Indian Ocean.  Had his visit taken place earlier in February, it would have had some meaning but now with the Yameen administration intent upon destroying whatever that is left of democracy, it is wiser to skip Maldives.  It will be a signal to Yameen that India does not approve the strong arm undemocratic methods of Yameen.

The trial of Nasheed is fundamentally flawed as two of the three judges presiding over the trial of Nasheed for terrorism charges were actually witnesses to the arrest of criminal court judge Abdulla way back in 2012.  This was pointed out by the Defence Lawyers of Nasheed but was rejected outright by the judges.

It looks that the administration with the help of the judiciary is determined to pass a sentence on Nasheed on the so-called terrorism charges.  Otherwise where was the hurry of Yameen administration to present a bill to the Majlis to deny “convicted Presidents” of all presidential privileges that go with past presidents?

Nasheed while he took over as President wanted to break the tradition of Maldives in driving the past presidents into exile.  Ibrahim Nasir was the last example.  It looks that he made the mistake of breaking the tradition in allowing former president all the allowances and a decent living in not pursuing Gayoom with all criminal cases that could have been slapped on him during his 30-year autocratic rule.

Nasheed’s trial is being run like a quiz programme.  The Defence lawyers are given specific time limits to forward their arguments.  Nasheed was also prevented from sitting with his legal team.

 In the court, Nasheed denied having authorised the arrest of judge Abdulla.  “Public support to me during Presidential elections by 49 percent demonstrate that they do not view me as a terrorist.”

 The State Prosecutor on the other hand gave a new definition to terrorism in the court.  He said that detaining someone against his will is an act of terrorism.

Strangely, other defendants in Nasheed’s case include the present Defence Minister Moosa Ali Jaleel, the then Chief of Defence Force Ibrahim Didi and former Col. Mohamed Ziyad.  Although Moosa Ali is facing terrorism charges he appears to continue as the Defence Minister even now. There has to be some purpose in letting this continue.

The case against former Defence Minister Nazim is also taking a farcical turn.  It may be recalled that in the first report of Police on the raid had said that nothing incriminating was found.  Later a pistol and some rounds were declared to have been  found.  It is now said that a forensic examination of the black bag showed presence of explosive material. 

The pen drive said to have been recovered from Nazim’s house sis now supposed to have some evidence of a plot to harm senior government officials with the financial backing of the villa group.  Nazim was supposed to have been tasked - individually and jointly to cause harm to the officials!

The attempt now is to involve Gasim Ibrahim too who incidentally is the head of the villa group!

The grand rally of 27th was said to be a great success.  There was a turn out of over 25000 persons.  The rally terminated promptly at 6:00 P.M. though there were calls to extend the time.  In the rally 13 demands were placed.  These included

1. Stop restricting fundamental constitutional rights through amendments to either the constitution or the laws.

2. Release former President Nasheed and former Defence Minister Mohamed Nazim.

3.  Repeal amendments brought to the Auditor General Act that saw the removal of former Auditor General Niyaz Ibrahim.

4.  Withdraw political charges against opposition politicians.

5 Investigate large scale corruption within the government.

6.  Continue providing electricity subsidy.

7.  Fulfill campaign pledges to provide subsidies to fishermen and farmers.

8.  Give back powers taken from local councils and enforce local decentralisation act.

9.  Enforce Fiscal responsibility act.

10.  Increase wages of teachers, health workers and civil servants.

11.  Reverse decision to impose import duty on fuel.

12.  Empower legally independent institutions.

13.  Fulfill government pledges to provide unlimited health insurance.

In the rally Gasim Ibrahim alleged that the government wants to frame and destroy all opponents.  The present target appears to be to destroy Gasim Ibrahim, his business and his political career.  Sooner or later a deal will be offered to him to either cooperate or get destroyed! .