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Supreme Court declares Former President Nasheed 'a free man'

Rae Munavvar
26 November 2018, MVT 12:32
President Nasheed emerges victorious as Supreme Court overturns his 13-year jail sentence imposed in 2015. PHOTO: NISHAN ALI / MIHAARU
Rae Munavvar
26 November 2018, MVT 12:32

The Supreme Court overturned the 13-year conviction over charges of terrorism imposed upon Former president Mohamed Nasheed on Monday.

Prosecutor General (PG) Aishath Bisham filed at the apex court in October seeking to revise the Criminal Court ruling on March 13, 2015, that found Nasheed guilty over the arbitrary detention of the court's then Chief Judge Abdulla Mohamed at K.Girifushi, during his presidency.

It was alleged that on Nasheed's orders, police had raided former judge Abdulla Mohamed's residence during the early hours of the evening on January 16, 2012, forcibly arresting and transporting him to Girifushi.

Although the Supreme Court has declared Nasheed a free man, both the Supreme Court and High Court have previously upheld the Criminal Court verdict. As such, when PG office sought to appeal the ruling, the apex court refused to accept the case, citing the claim did not meet appeal criteria.

The unanimous ruling made by three judges of the Supreme Court bench stated that the case against Nasheed hinged on an invalid basis and that the proceedings were not constitutional, pointing fingers at the lack of evidence presented to court.

It also declares that as Nasheed was prosecuted following an invalid procedure, all events succeeding the decision must also be null and void.

The verdict states that the case does not meet the conditions outlined in the Anti-Terrorism Act, adding that although the former judge had been detained, it is evident that the incident was not a case of kidnapping.

Stating the the Criminal Court verdict was hence unconstitutional, it highlighted that the case did not fall within the court's jurisdiction, as criminal responsibility cannot be held by MNDF, the acting party.

The ruling read out by Chief Justice Dr. Ahmed Abdulla Didi also adds that former judge Abdulla Mohamed was arrested in violation of exisiting court procedures, highlighting that as per the Judges Act (2010), in order to prosecute a judge for a criminal offence, a top court must issue court for the arrest and that it must be carried out with PG's approval.

Nasheed's case was presided over by Judge Abdulla Areef, Judge Adam Mohamed Abdulla as well as the Chief Justice.

The case has come to the attention of many international bodies, with the United Nations (UN) Working Group on Arbitrary Detention also deeming that the sentence was passed unconstitutionally, calling for Nasheed's immediate release.

Shortly after his conviction, Nasheed was granted political asylum in the UK in January 2016 after being allowed to travel there for medical purposes and was living in the UK, with frequent visits to neighbouring Sri Lanka until his triumphant return on November 1, following the defeat of President Abdulla Yameen Abdul Gayoom in the 2018 Presidential Elections.

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