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Maldives: Judicial Tyranny Continues:

Paper No. 5906                                  Dated  4-Mar-2015
By Dr. S.Chandrasekharan
Oppressive Government will not last very long: Sheikh Imran Abdulla of Adaalath Party
In another of those predetermined trials, former Defence Minister Nazim was sentenced to 11 years of imprisonment “for importing and possessing a fire arm.”  
In an officially leaked information, it was given out that the pen drive recovered from the house of Nazim gave indication that Nazim was plotting a coup to harm President Yameen, Commissioner of Police Hussein Waheed and the Tourism Minister Ahmed Adeeb.
No concrete evidence was given by the prosecution side as to how the poor defendant Nazim with one pistol and three rounds could have carried out a coup.  It is said that even the fingerprints on the pistol and that of the accused Nazim or his relatives were not matched. Only 2 of the 37 witnesses called for Defence were examined and the rest rejected.  Nazim’s request for immediate transfer to a speciality hospital for treatment was rejected.  All this was done by the same three judges who sentenced former President Nasheed to 13 years of imprisonment earlier.
As expected there has been an international outcry against the gross violation of international norms.  The US expressed its concern over the sentence.
Meanwhile, Nasheed’s lawyers have not been provided with all the documents relating to his sentence to enable them to file an appeal.  Except for a ‘summary’ of the judgement, no other record has been provided and the deadline of ten days from the date of sentence had already passed.  Nasheed has therefore decided not to file an appeal in the absence of all the documents.  At any rate he knows that he is not going to get any justice from the tyrannical judicial system of Maldives.
The United Nations High Commission for Human Rights Zerd Ra’ad Al Hussein and UN Special Rapporteur for independence of Judges and Lawyers Gabriella Knaul have condemned the apparent lack of due process of law. Gabriella called it “a mockery of constitution” and suggested that the verdict may have been pre determined.  
The International Court of Jurists observed that the trial was marred by ‘gross violations of international standards of fair trial, including Article 14 of the International Covenant on civil and political rights to which Maldives had acceded in 2006.
Among the violations enlisted by the ICJ were 
* Two of the three judges have testified in the 2012 investigation of the same incident and therefore should not have presided over the trial
* Demand for legal representatives for Nasheed’s hearing on 23rd January was rejected by the court.
* Demand of the defence witnesses full access and evidence of State witnesses were rejected by the court.
* Opportunity for the Defence Lawyers to consult Defendant Nasheed was not given.
* The demand of the Defence to call its own witnesses was rejected by the court.
* The Supreme Court arbitrarily reduced the appeal time from 90 days to 10 days just six weeks before the trial.
* The Court had not released to Nasheed’s Defence team all the records pertaining to the trial to file an appeal
Protests are going on regularly in the country, particularly in Male and Adu, the two major towns.   The protesters and the MDP leaders are being arbitrarily arrested and made to given an undertaking that they will not participate in the protests for  stipulated periods of time.  Those who refuse are being given extended imprisonment by the criminal courts though there is no legal basis for such  actions.
On 20th March, the MDP carried out major protests across the country under the banner “Maldivians for Justice.”
Following this, hundreds offered Friday prayers and said “Brutality reigns in our country-May our country be saved from the brutality of our rulers and may we be taken to safer shores.” 
 The Home Minister who himself had accused the present President Yameen as one in league with thugs and drug dealers asked people not politicise prayers in the Mosque, forgetting that it was the ruling coalition which was using religion to meet their political ends.
With Gasim silenced ( he has been asked to pay a fine of 100 million dollars within a month as a fine from his Villa group) it was the Adhaalth party chief, Sheikh Imran Abdulla who has been vociferously opposing the “brutality” of President Yameen .  He has left the ruling coalition and has had the courage to join the opposition MDP to bring an end to this brutality.  The four points he made were- Jailing Nasheed, Framing former Defence Minister Mohamed Nazim, Targeting Gasim Ibrahim of Jumhooree and the unconstitutional removal of Auditor General Niyaz Ibrahim and Chief Justice Ahmed Faiz Hussein.
One may wonder what India is doing besides cancelling PM’s visit to Maldives in the Indian Ocean tour he recently undertook.  It is said that the Indian High Commissioner met Gayoom (who many consider as the Chief Villain) and discussed perhaps a way out of the present mess created by President Yameen.  It is doubtful whether such approaches to Gayoom would have any effect.