June 28, 2018
The UN Special Rapporteur on the independence of judges and lawyers, Diego García-Sayán, expressed dismay at the Supreme Court’s decision not to accept the application made by two convicted Supreme Court justices to have their case reviewed, saying he was concerned by reports of interference and serious irregularities in the judicial procedures that led to the convictions.
The two justices were arrested on charges related to influencing official conduct of judges in the wake of the 1 February 2018 Supreme Court decision which ordered the reinstatement of 12 suspended Members of the Parliament and release and retrial of nine political leaders. Following the arrest of the two justices, the remaining three justices issued a new order, allegedly at the request of the President of the Maldives, overturning its previous unanimous ruling to free the nine leaders.
Both justices were convicted by the Criminal Court in May, and affirmed with a reduced sentence by the High Court in early June. The cases were filed for appeal in the Supreme Court on 13 June, but rejected.
“I am dismayed by the Judges Council’s decision not to accept the application made by Chief Justice Abdulla Saeed and Justice Ali Hameed, despite the reported procedural irregularities in the lower courts,” said Garcia-Sayan. “Due process issues included the use of closed hearings without valid justification; use of protected witnesses without due explanation; and insufficient time given to the defence to prepare and submit a witness list, further hampered by the difficulties faced by the defendants in accessing their lawyers in Maafushi Prison.”