Legal Politics

Adhaalath Party leader seeks review of terror conviction

Adhaalath Party leader Sheikh Imran Abdulla has asked the Supreme Court to review his terrorism conviction.

Imran was sentenced to 12 years in jail over a speech he gave on May 1, 2015, at a historic anti-government protest march. He was found guilty of inciting violence and blamed for clashes with riot police.

A request has been made for the Supreme Court to review its decision to reject Imran’s appeal, his lawyer Ali Zahir tweeted Tuesday.

“The freedom of leaders of the joint parties is very important for the transition work,” the Adhaalath Party deputy leader added.

The courts have released several high-profile figures since September’s presidential election.

The four-party coalition candidate Ibrahim Mohamed Solih defeated President Abdulla Yameen with a record margin of victory.

In recent days, the High Court overturned the convictions of Jumhooree Party leader Gasim Ibrahim and former president Maumoon Abdul Gayoom, who leads a breakaway faction of the ruling party.

But the cases of Imran and former president Mohamed Nasheed – de facto leader of the Maldivian Democratic Party – require Supreme Court reviews as their convictions were previously upheld at the final appeal stage.

Earlier this month, in a move that triggered the first public disagreement among coalition partners, Nasheed announced his intention to return to the Maldives despite the risk of imprisonment.

The “fugitive” opposition leader – who secured political asylum in the UK after he was granted medical leave from prison – was also convicted of terrorism and sentenced to 13 years in jail.

JP leader Gasim publicly urged Nasheed to seek a Supreme Court review of his conviction. There would be unrest and chaos if the authorities try to arrest him on his return, Gasim warned.

But Nasheed has ruled out a deal for his release that would keep the present Supreme Court bench in place.

“If we at this juncture try to find an amicable arrangement for my freedom with the now-defunct Maldives Supreme Court, it will not further our ambitions for judicial reform in the Maldives,” he tweeted.

“I will go to the Maldives on 01 November, come what may.”

MDP spokesman Imthiyaz Fahmy told the Maldives Independent a decision has not been made on petitioning the Supreme Court.

Briefing the press Monday evening, Imthiyaz reiterated the MDP’s stance that Nasheed was not a convict or fugitive.

“President Nasheed will return to the Maldives as a free man. We are saying this because the February 1 [Supreme Court] order makes it clear that he is a free man,” he told reporters.

The MDP has urged supporters from across the country to gather in Malé for a grand welcome.

On Tuesday morning, Mariya Ahmed Didi, the president-elect’s spokeswoman, echoed the Adhaalath Party’s call for a Supreme Court ruling to free opposition leaders.

“We believe that it will be a progressive step for the country’s stability if the Supreme Court justices make use of their ‘inherent mandate’ to review the part in the February 1 Supreme Court order concerning the release of political party leaders. Maldivians want stability for their country!” she tweeted.

Nasheed was among nine prisoners whose convictions were quashed in the shock February 1 ruling, which branded their trials as politically motivated.

President Abdulla Yameen reacted by declaring a state of emergency. The unanimous Supreme Court order was “nullified” by a three-judge bench on February 6, a day after the security forces stormed the court and arrested two of the five justices, including the chief justice.

The Supreme Court was reconstituted after the two justices were convicted and removed from the bench.

With convictions barring the candidacies of exiled leaders, Solih, the opposition parliament leader, was named as an “alternative” candidate to Nasheed.

Nasheed was found guilty of ordering the military’s “abduction” of a judge after a widely condemned trial in March 2015.

A UN rights panel ruled his jailing was illegal and politically motivated. But the government rejected the “non-binding opinion” and the Supreme Court upheld Nasheed’s conviction in June 2016.

The government also remained defiant when the UN Human Rights Committee decided in March this year that Nasheed’s right to contest elections must be restored.

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Source URL:  Maldives Independent

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