The Edition


Maldives court issues arrest warrants for ex-pres Nasheed, ex-VP Jameel

Mohamed Visham
30 August 2016, MVT 19:23
Former president Nasheed (R), former VP Dr Jameel (3R) and MDP Chairperson Ali Waheed (L) with Canadian High Commissioner.
Mohamed Visham
30 August 2016, MVT 19:23

Criminal Court on Tuesday issued formal warrants for the arrest of former president Mohamed Nasheed and former vice president Dr Mohamed Jameel Ahmed.

Police in a statement said the court had issued the warrant for Nasheed's arrest in two separate cases.

Nasheed had been sentenced last March on a terrorism charge over the arrest and subsequent detention of a sitting Judge during his presidency, in a trial widely criticized for lack of due process.

He has since been granted asylum in the UK after he was allowed to leave for medical treatment in an internationally brokered deal in January.

Maldives correctional service has deemed the ex-president a fugitive after he failed to return to the Maldives after medical leave and has requested police assistance for his arrest, the statement read.

The statement also said police were looking to arrest Nasheed over alleged misuse of state funds during his presidency.

Nasheed and six senior officials of his administration have been ordered to repay government funds they had “misused,” the finance ministry has said.

The seven were told to reimburse the treasury within seven days or face lawsuits.

The arrest warrant was issued against Dr Jameel who now heads the opposition coalition over the forged warrant to arrest the president.

In addition to Jameel, a warrant to arrest opposition aligned Raajje TV Chairman over the case.

Jameel and Akram are also currently living in exile in the United Kingdom.

Jameel had fled to the UK last July days before he was impeached in a controversial vote which was alleged to have been orchestrated by his eventual successor Ahmed Adheeb Abdul Ghafoor who himself was impeached following a blast aboard the presidential speedboat.

Adheeb has now been convicted and sentenced to prison for orchestrating the blast, now confirmed as a plot to kill the president.

The newly formed opposition alliance had said it will seek to oust incumbent president Abdulla Yameen Abdul Gayoom and form an interim government to ensure free and fair elections scheduled in 2018.

Five rival opposition groups had announced a united front to remove president Yameen from office.

The MUO brings together the Maldivian Democratic Party, the Adhaalath Party, two of Yameen’s former deputies and his former defence minister.

The former chief prosecutor Muhuthaz Muhsin was convicted of terrorism and sentenced to 17 years in prison after the court found him guilty of forging the warrant to arrest the president.

The arrest warrant was issued from the Alif Dhaal Maamigili magistrate court in February. In addition to Muhuthaz, the chief magistrate of the court Ahmed Nihan was also sentenced to prison over the case.

A prosecution witness had testified that the warrant was sought on orders of the ex VP Jameel, an accusation he strongly denies.

The arrest warrants come in the wake of intense speculation of a plot to oust President Yameen from office.

Nasheed has reportedly flown in to Sri Lanka for a crucial sit-down over the removal of Yameen.

Opposition had said, Jameel who had recently been granted political refugee status by Britain would also join the talks in Sri Lanka.

But the ex-VP is reportedly still in the UK while the reason behind the delay is yet to be confirmed.

The British public service broadcaster quoted sources saying the opposition plans to move against the president “within weeks.”

According to the BBC report, details of what is being planned remain obscure but the government has described it as a “formal attempt at ‘legally’ overthrowing the government”.

The report has been met by intense government criticism accusing the opposition of plotting the illegal overthrow of a democratically elected government.

Meanwhile, Al Jazeera is set to release a new documentary exposing mass corruption in the Maldives.

Created by the Emmy and BAFTA winning Al Jazeera’s Investigative Unit, the documentary would be released on Tuesday at the Royal Society of Arts in London.

The invitation for the release of the documentary, titled ‘Stealing Paradise’ has been opened publicly.

The invitation card claims that “Al Jazeera has uncovered new evidence of corruption, theft and abuse of power. The award winning investigative team reveals how a president hijacked a nation and millions of dollars were stolen”.

The hugely anticipated documentary is believed to have been made on the largest embezzlement of state funds in the history of the tiny island nation which has been heavily linked to president  Yameen.

An official audit report had revealed that over USD79 million had been embezzled through the state tourism promotion company.

Maldives Media and PR Corporation (MMPRC) had mediated the leasing of over 59 different tourist hotels, resorts and yacht marinas out of which 53 had been leased through an agreement with the tourism ministry.

The funds received by MMPRC was distributed through a private company.

The Doha based broadcaster had originally planned to air the documentary on September 6 but has now moved the date to Sunday.