Housing minister Dr. Mohamed Muizzu and the lawyers of arrested former President Maumoon Abdul Gayoom and Chief Justice Abdulla Saeed clashed Thursday over conflicting accounts of the detainees’ incarceration conditions.
As an envoy of President Abdulla Yameen, Muizzu on Wednesday had visited Maumoon, Saeed and top court judge Ali Hameed, who were arrested over allegedly giving and accepting bribes to stage a coup against the elected government in the beginning of this month. He had said that he inquired after their health and the conditions of their prison cells.
Following his visit, Maumoon’s lawyer Hussain Shameem declared that his client had told the housing minister that the conditions and facilities of the prison were poor, and that he was not allowed to meet his family and lawyers. Shameem also claimed that Maumoon had told Muizzu that his visit was not out of concern but was “to put up an appearance” by President Yameen.
Hours after Shameem’s statements Thursday, Muizzu countered that Maumoon had told him that the conditions and arrangements of Maafushi Prison, to which the former president was transferred after being detained in Dhoonidhoo Detention Centre, were excellent. Speaking at a press conference at ruling Progressive Party of Maldives (PPM)’s main office, Muizzu stated that Maumoon had said he was in good health and was also given access to his lawyers in accordance with policies.
“He told me directly that his health was fine, and that if he needed medications or a doctor, everything was arranged immediately upon request. There were no complaints.”
Muizzu had accused Maumoon’s lawyers of spreading fabrications, saying that such actions from legal representatives were very disappointing.
The housing minister added that Chief Justice Abdulla Saeed and Judge Ali Hameed had also told him that the police had treated them well and their prison arrangements were fine.
However, soon after Muizzu’s comments, the lawyers of Saeed issued a statement claiming that their client had informed the housing minister during the visit that his prison cell was “unfit for humans”.
The lawyers stated that the chief justice had not told anyone that the prison officers were treating him well, and that he had informed the Human Rights Commission in detail how he was being treated during his detention as well.
Saeed’s legal team said that the police had notified them Wednesday that Saeed, who is allowed out of his cell once a day, would only be led out handcuffed. The lawyers also raised concerns over their client’s access to them being curtailed during the ongoing state of emergency, saying that access to legal help is required to be provided regardless of circumstances.
The lawyers of both Maumoon and Saeed had further requested state officials to not meet their clients in their absence.