New Delhi/Colombo: India and the US expressed concern over the sentencing of former Maldivian president Mohamed Nasheed to 13 years in prison for the military’s detention of Criminal Court Chief Judge Abdulla Mohamed in January 2012. “India deeply concerned at developments in Maldives, monitoring situation closely,” Syed Akbaruddin, spokesman of the external affairs ministry, tweeted.
The verdict was delivered at the final hearing on Friday night. Delivering the verdict, Judge Abdulla Didi said the prosecution’s evidence proved beyond reasonable doubt that Nasheed ordered the chief judge’s arrest or “forceful abduction” and detention on Girifushi Island, according to Minivan News.
Nasheed was the “architect” of the “atrocity”, Judge Didi said. Nasheed was first charged in 2012 with arbitrary detention, which carries either banishment or a jail term of up to three years.
On February 15, Prosecutor General Muhthaz Muhsin withdrew the charges filed in the Hulhumale Magistrate Court. Nasheed was arrested on February 22 shortly after the prosecutor general filed terrorism charges in the Criminal Court. In Colombo, the US embassy to Sri Lanka and Maldives expresed concern with the apparent lack of appropriate criminal procedures during the trial of Nasheed, who was found guilty on Friday and sentenced to 13 years in prison, Xinhua news agency reported citing the statement.
“We are particularly troubled by reports that the trial was conducted in a manner contrary to Maldivian law and Maldives’ international obligations to provide the minimum fair trial guarantees and other protections under the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR),” the statement by the US embassy to Maldives and Sri Lanka here said.
According to the statement, this includes the denial of legal representation to former president Nasheed during the first hearing and concerns regarding the lack of impartiality and independence of the judges. The US called on the government of Maldives to take steps to restore confidence in its commitment to democracy and the rule of law, including judicial independence, and to ensure fundamental rights were respected, including freedom of speech and of the press as well as the right to peaceful assembly and peaceful protest.
“We urge the government to ensure former president Nasheed’s safety and well being in custody, and we hope all Maldivians will express their views peacefully,” the statement added. Nasheed’s final hearing on Friday evening sparked protests with police arresting at least one demonstrator. Many human rights activists have condemned the trial as unfair and politically motivated, which the Maldives government has denied.