Reference No: 23 /10/2013
Sentencing MP Hamid to 6 months jail is politically motivated and a “witch hunt” instigated by the coup administration – MDP
The Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) strongly condemns the politically motivated sentencing by the Criminal Court of Hamid Abdul Ghafoor, MP for the Henveiru South constituency, in absentia to six months in jail for failure to attend court hearings.
MP Hamid’s case was presided over by Chief Judge Abdulla Mohamed, a remnant of the former dictatorship who has demonstrated on many occasions his absolute disregard for the law. He thought it fit to quash his own police summons and an investigation initiated against him by the Judicial Service Commission. There are a dozen serious complaints against Abdulla Mohamed pending at the judicial oversight body dating back to more than two years.
The party notes that the old autocratic practice of delivering verdicts in absentia was discontinued following the adoption of the democratic constitution in August 2008.
Furthermore, the Criminal Court repeatedly scheduled hearings of Hamid’s case to coincide with parliament proceedings in violation of the law. The Parliamentary Powers and Privileges Act clearly states that MPs cannot be summoned to court during sittings of the People’s Majlis or committee meetings
While Hamid was sentenced to six months in jail for non-compliance with a court summons, the practice in the past had been levying a fine of MVR75 or passing a jail sentence of four months. No one has been sentenced to six months imprisonment for the offence during the past eight years.
Today’s spurious sentence represents the latest move by the Maldivian judiciary in a political witch-hunt to purge MDP MPs following the party’s newfound majority in parliament. It follows the Supreme Court’s in absentia verdict last week disqualifying MDP MP Ali Azim and Dhivehi Rayyithunge Party (DRP) MP Mohamed Nashiz over a disputed decreed debt.
In light of the judiciary’s role in subverting democracy, the MDP welcomes the recent statement by United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, NaviPillay, in which she expressed deep concern about “the dangerous drift in the democratic process” in the Maldives largely as a result of the Supreme Court’s repeated interventions in the presidential election process.
“I am alarmed that the Supreme Court of the Maldives is interfering excessively in the Presidential elections, and in so doing is subverting the democratic process and violating the right of Maldivians to freely elect their representatives,” the High Commissioner had said.
The party also notes that the High Commissioner’s concerns were echoed by UN Special Rapporteur on the Independence of Lawyers and Judges, Gabriela Knaul, in a report on the Maldivian judiciary released in May this year.
“Justice must not merely be done but must also be seen to be done, and judges must not only be actually impartial they have to appear impartial to the public,” Knaul had stated.
In the wake of the witch-hunt instigated by the coup government in collaboration with the corrupt judiciary, the MDP Deputy Chairperson Ali Shiyam said: “the politically motivated persecution of elected officials by the courts and the current Waheed administration seems to be an extension of their aversion to honouring the will of the people through the principles of ballots”