For the sake of national stability, former President Mohamed Nasheed's trial over the unconstitutional arrest and subsequent detention of Chief Criminal Judge Abdulla Mohamed must be concluded before the presidential election later this year, Home Minister Dr Mohamed Jameel Ahmed said Tuesday.
In an interview with Haveeru, Home Minister raised fears of national instability due to the delay in Nasheed’s trial over the “enforced disappearance” of Judge Abdulla Mohamed. Minister added that the delay could have negative effects on the political and social fabric of the Maldives.
“If that comes to pass, the people will believe that the delay in probing a matter by the judicial system is to blame. Moreover, I believe that the responsibility must be taken by the courts,” Minister said.
“Every single day that passes without a verdict will raise several questions over the justice system of the Maldives in the minds of the people.”
Minister explained that as Judge Abdulla’s unconstitutional arrest was a criminal case linked to national interest, the delay would influence the upcoming presidential election.
He labeled the case as a matter of confidence in the executive and justice system of the Maldives.
“Hence I believe even now the case has been delayed in the minds of the people. So to conclude the case in the near future is vital to the stability of the Maldives.
Jameel further underlined that settling cases at the earliest is obligated by the constitution and reiterated the importance of concluding Nasheed’s trial as soon as possible.
Home Minister’s call to expedite Nasheed’s trial came after the ex President and his Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) have alleged that the charges were politically motivated and intended to disqualify him from the presidential race.
Nasheed has been charged at the Hulhumale Magistrate Court for the unconstitutional arrest of an innocent person under Article 81 of the Penal Code. If found guilty the offence carries a maximum sentence of three years in jail or exile or a fine not exceeding MVR2,000.
According to the constitution, a person to be elected as President must not have been convicted of a criminal offence and sentenced to a term of more than twelve months, unless a period of three years has elapsed since his release, or pardon for the offence for which he was sentenced. Hence, if Nasheed is found guilty of the charges and sentenced to more than twelve months he would be lose a condition stipulated under the constitution that is obligatory in a presidential candidate.
However, procedural points including question marks over the legitimacy of the Hulhumale Court raised by the defence have stalled his trial.
But the Supreme Court last year declared the Hulhumale Court as legitimate by majority of four Judges out of the seven Judge bench. Another hearing on the appeal of the remaining procedural points has been scheduled for next Monday.
In addition to Nasheed, former Defence Minister Tholhath Ibrahim Kaleyfaanu, former Chief of Defence Force Major General Moosa Ali Jaleel, Brigadier General retired Ibrahim Mohamed Didi and Colonel Mohamed Ziyad have been charged over Judge Abdulla’s arrest.
Nasheed, who won the first free elections in 2008, controversially stepped down in February last year after prolonged public demonstrations against him and a mutiny by police.