Joint Statement: Adhaalath Party Leader Sheikh Imran Sent Back to Jail as President Yameen Steps Up Repression

24 April Male: President Yameen on Sunday ordered Adhaalath Party leader, Sheikh Imran Abdulla, who had been under house arrest, back to prison, amidst another crackdown on the political opposition in the Maldives.

On Sunday, the High Court also upheld the 2016 terror charges against Sheikh Imran.

The Maldives Police Service on Sunday also summoned PPM MP Faris Maumoon, son of former President Maumoon Abdul Gayoom, to the police for questioning.

The police initially attempting to frame Faris for irregularities found in a 2008 audit of the then presidential palace, Theemuge. Faris held no position in government at the time. On Monday, the charges were changed to “bribing lawmakers” and “attempting to influence lawmakers ahead of a no-confidence motion on the Speaker and Deputy Speaker of Parliament.”

Meanwhile, during the “corruption” trial of opposition Jumhoory Party leader Qasim Ibrahim on Sunday, defence lawyers complained that the judge refused to allow them proper time and opportunity to defend their client in court. During the second hearing, the judge’s panel was changed to place the Chief Judge of the Criminal Court, Judge Bari, who also authorised his arrest warrant, as the presiding judge. Judge Bari was initially not part of the bench.

Judge Bari was also the sole judge on Qasim’s remand appeal.

The trial for Jumhooree Party Parliamentary Deputy Leader Abdulla Riyaz MP, has also been rushed. The trial is expected to conclude next week. The lawmaker is accused of obstructing the duty of a law enforcement officer, a charge that carries a maximum jail term of one year, and therefore could cause the loss of his parliamentary seat.

Furthermore, on Sunday, an opposition Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) candidate in the upcoming local council elections, Hussain Jabeen’s candidacy was nullified by the Supreme Court over a criminal conviction from 2015 allegedly saying he was responsible for removing a post at a construction site.

The wave of political repression, ordered by President Yameen, comes as he desperately attempts to cling onto his majority in parliament.

An alliance of political parties, including a faction of the ruling PPM, the Jumhoory Party, the Adhaalath Party and the Maldivian Democratic Party, agreed to work together last month in order to secure a majority in parliament and bring an end to President Yameen’s repeated abuses of office.

Since the alliance was formed, President Yameen has seen his once solid majority in the legislature collapse, and a growing band of MPs defect to the opposition.

President Yameen’s crackdown occurred just hours after the brutal murder of liberal, pro-democracy blogger Yameen Rasheed, who was found dead with multiple stab wounds early Sunday morning.