Legal Politics Terrorism

MP Didi’s new lawyer gets two weeks to prepare for terrorism trial

Opposition MP Ibrahim Mohamed Didi’s terrorism trial over the military’s detention of the criminal court’s former chief judge in January 2012 resumed Monday with new legal counsel.

The retired brigadier general’s trial has been stalled since August after his first lawyer was suspended over a judicial reform petition. A second lawyer withdrew from the case earlier this month for personal reasons.

“I went to the hearing with my new lawyer Safa [Shareef] today. She requested for time to gather more information about the case as well as for coordination with the [Prosecutor General’s office] and the court over past proceedings,” Didi told the Maldives Independent.

Judge Ali Adam granted her request for more time and scheduled the next hearing for November 9.

The Maldivian Democratic Party MP for the mid-Hithadhoo constituency in Addu City was previously put on trial along with former President Mohamed Nasheed in early 2015.

Didi was the military’s Malé area commander at the time of Judge Abdulla Mohamed’s detention.

The PG office withdrew the case on June 30, 2015, before the court was due to hear witnesses. The move came after the acquittal of former Chief of Defence Forces Moosa Ali Jaleel and former Colonel Mohamed Ziyad on the same terrorism charge.

Didi previously told the Maldives Independent that he was informed in writing by the PG office that he would not be charged again.

The lawmaker said he was summoned to court on July 15, two months after the PG office filed the case, which was “highly unusual” as the defendant is required to be informed beforehand.

In August, the presiding judge overruled objections from defence attorneys who contended that the lawmaker could not be prosecuted for the second time on the same charge.

Didi’s trial in 2015 was stalled following his hospitalisation over heart issues on March 1 that year. The criminal court did not schedule further hearings and the lawmaker flew overseas for medical treatment.

Didi – a corporal and former President Maumoon Abdul Gayoom’s bodyguard at the time – played a pivotal role during the failed coup attempt of November 3, 1988, by carrying the keys of the armoury to the besieged military headquarters before soldiers ran out of ammunition.

In March 2015, former President Nasheed was found guilty of ordering the abduction of the judge and sentenced to 13 years in prison. The rushed trial was widely condemned over due process violations and a UN rights panel later ruled his imprisonment illegal and arbitrary.

Then-Defence Minister Tholhath Ibrahim Kaleyfan was also convicted and sentenced to 10 years over the judge’s three-week detention on the military training base on the island of Girifushi.

The judge’s controversial arrest sparked 22 nights of anti-government protests that culminated in Nasheed’s resignation in the wake of a violent mutiny by elements of the police and army on February 7, 2012.

 

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