“Choose your leaders with wisdom and forethought. To be led by a coward is to be controlled by all that the coward fears. To be led by a fool is to be led by the opportunists who control the fool. To be led by a thief is to offer up your most precious treasures to be stolen.” – Octavia Butler
The ability of the press in image-making is so powerful that it can make the criminal look like he’s a victim and the victim look like he’s a criminal.
The publicity stunt being pulled off by Ex President Abdulla Yameen can fit into the context, seeing how he is doing numerous interviews and talk shows lately.
In one of his recent interviews former President Yameen claimed that when he was head of the state he did not centralized and did not interfere or influence any state institutions. He claimed that the bodies regulated independently.
“No judges can claim that Pres Yameen ordered to do something in a specific way,” he said.
The people of Maldives would agree that the statements he made are quite inaccurate. There is a dossier of evidence available in the internet that would date us back to events where he is found guilty of influencing trials of his political opponents, changing new amendments in the existing laws to fit to his liking.
Before we go down in details to see how Yameen influenced these institutions, we must first know who Criminal Court Judge Abdul Bari Yoosuf is.
Judge Abdul Bari Yoosuf: He was the proceeding judge in all the key political opponents jailed by Yameen. Also the judge who stood witnessed for Chief Justice Abdulla Mohamed who was ordered to arrest by then Pres and Parliament Speaker Nasheed.
Judge Bari is well acquainted with Yameen. Under his Govert. Judge Bari was awarded luxury flat at discounted price. The government was handed 10 flats in the newly built Rehendi Residency, constructed by FW Construction in Male’. The housing ministry then offered the semi-finished apartments for MVR 1.6m (US $103,761), much lower than the market price, to the chosen individuals.
According to the local media, the flats were awarded to Chief Justice Abdulla Saeed, Supreme Court judges Ahmed Abdulla Didi, Adam Mohamed Abdulla, Abdulla Areef and Ali Hameed, Criminal Court Judge Abdul Bari Yoosuf and Prosecutor General Muhthaz Muhsin.
Judge Bari, a controversial figure over his role in several high-profile trials:
Nasheed – who was convicted of terrorism over the military’s “abduction” of a judge and handed 13 years in jail.
In jan 2016 Nasheed travelled to UK for treatment and secured political asylum.
- The government failed to explain how the arrest of Judge Abdulla Mohamed, carried out by the Maldivian National Defence Forces under an order by a third party, could constitute terrorism.
- -The judicial proceedings in which Nasheed was convicted were based on vague legislation, contained serious flaws and violated his right to a fair trial under the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR)
- Pres Yameen rejects Clemency Act that grants the Pres wide authority to pardon any prisoner. However, Drug Kingpin like Ibrahim Shifaz was given pardoned under Clemency Act.
- Yameen instigated new charges of terrorism against President Mohamed Nasheed. the new charges relate to Yameen’s brief isolation by the Maldives National Defence Force in 2010.
- Yameen told that he was kept in Aarah “under military protection” against his wishes for nine days, during which he was denied freedom of movement.
- These fresh accusations were measures to prevent Nasheed from returning to Maldives to participate in the 2018 presidential elections.
- The govt rejected the UN Human Rights Committee’s decision that Nasheed’s right to run for office must be restored.
- Judge barred journalists from attending hearings in March, during former President Mohamed Nasheed’s terrorism trial.
- A journalist and cameraman were briefly detained after they videotaped an alleged meeting between Judge Bari and Prosecutor General Muhthaz Muhsin.
Sheikh Imran Abdulla (AP): Imran was found guilty of inciting violence in his speech at the 20,000 strong protest march(May Day Rally 2015) and sentenced to 12 years in violence.
• Allows president to declare groups as terrorist organizations.
• Rights restricted upon arrest for terrorism suspects – including the right to remain silent and access to legal counsel.
• Anyone giving speech that authorities believe encourages terrorism can be prosecuted, along with any media that report on such speeches.
- Imran Abdulla’s conviction marked as the first terrorism sentence passed in the Maldives over a speech made at a political gathering.
- Judge Abdul Bari Yousuf said Imran’s allegations against Yameen and then-Tourism Minister Ahmed Adeeb led to the violence.
- Yameen vowed that he will file criminal charge against Imran Abdulla for accusing and linking him with Dr Afrasheem murder.
- Online paper CNM’s senior desk editor was denied entry into the courtroom on orders from the presiding judge, despite having registered to observe proceedings.
- CNM reported that Judge Bari had threatened journalists inside the courtroom claiming their coverage of the Adhaalath Party leader’s trial was unfair.
- mran had asked the Supreme Court to change the judge in his case. Judge Bari was among the three-judge panel that sentenced Nasheed and Nazim early 2015.
- Bari had reportedly declared “I have already made a decision on this case” during a hearing. He announced this before the trial even finished.
- On August 5, the chief judge of the criminal court, Abdulla Mohamed, transferred Imran to house arrest, citing health concerns. But judge Bari held a surprise hearing the next day and ordered Imran to be taken back into custody.
Maumoon Abdul Gayoom: sentenced to terrorism charge, 19 months in prison after he was found guilty of obstructing justice.
- Charges of plotting coup shortly after Yameen declared state of emergency in Feb 2018
- Sentenced for refusing to hand over a mobile phone to police.
- Not give enough time to appoint new counsel after his lawyer boycotted proceedings
- Yameen is made as the leader of PPM after Maumoom’s refusal to endorse Yameen for the 2018 polls. (2016)
- Maumoon expelled from PPM after signing pact to form a coalition. “working with the opposition to overthrow the govt.” (2017)
- Yameen issued an enforcement order instructing Police to stop Maumoon from using PPM logo, flag or name. Also ordered to disband Mumoon’s office, thereby obstructing political activity led by Mamoon’s faction of the PPM
Qasim Ibrahim(JP): Found guilty of attempted bribery and sentenced to three years in jail.
- Judge Adam Arif delivered the verdict in the absence of Qasim as he remained hospitalized after collapsing inside the courtroom.
- Gasim was sentenced under charges of “attempted bribery,” for a public speech in which he called on more MPs to join the opposition.
- Judge Abdul Bari accused Qasim of influencing lawmakers to sign no-confidence motions to remove the speaker and deputy speaker of parliament.
- Gasim was exercising his constitutional right to free expression by seeking support for the JP and promoting his party’s ideology.
- According to Gasim’s legal team, the judge tried to continue with the final hearing after Gasim was rushed to the hospital. But the lawyers refused to enter the courtroom in their client’s absence.
- The politically motivated charges and sentence were brazenly framed and fixed to strip MP Gasim Ibrahim of his Parliamentary seat.
- Highlighted “irregularities” noted, Judge closing hearings to the media and the public, the Criminal Court had also refused to give a preliminary hearing and refusing to grant adequate time to prepare.
- Prosecution only submitted excerpts from Gasim’s speech as evidence and failed to produce any witnesses to testify.
- The law states all cases classified under corruption must be investigated by the Anti Corruption Commission. However, MP Qasim’s case was investigated by the Police.
- Police posted notices against Gasim and Nasheed were under investigation for refusing to return and serve their prison sentences after their medical leave expired.
- -Secured a special permit to travel to Germany after he was granted furlough in Singapore. “While I am getting medical treatment as given for in that order, calling me a fugitive and trying to summon me to the police is contempt of court.”
- Freezed his bank accounts and arrested his son.
Later, when the criminal court’s decision to throw out bribery charges raised against Jumhooree Party leader Gasim Ibrahim came out, Judge Bari was abruptly transferred to the juvenile court for reasons undisclosed. Many speculated the JSC’s intent as the decision came right after Gasim Ibrahim’s case was thrown out – a case the government was pushing for.
-After Bari’s fall out with the then government, he accused the police of withdrawing security for his family after he threatened to expose “the evil-doing of ignorant tyrants”. The ignorant tyrants he is referring to remains unknown.
Can this be a coincidence that the Judge who gets favored by the then Government who is headed by Yameen, is the same judge who is benched in almost all the high-profile cases in the Maldives? The trials as we have read had three things common:
• Judge Bari
• Rushed and unfair trials
• Yameen’s Political Opponents
With all these documented evidence can ex President Yameen really claim that his government has never influenced/interfered in the working of these institutions?