The Human Rights Commission of the Maldives (HRCM) has summoned former Defence Minister Tholhath Ibrahim for questioning over the arrest of Chief Judge of the Criminal Court Abdulla Mohamed.
Speaking to the media yesterday, Tholath said he told the commission that the information about the arrest of the judge could not be revealed to HRCM as the matter concerned national security.
Tholhath told Minivan News that he had informed the commission that he would only answer questions related to human rights violations.
Tholhath was accompanied to the commission by lawyer Nooruban Fahmy, the sister of MDP Deputy Leader and MP Alhan Fahmy.
President of HRCM, Mariyam Azra, recently told Minivan News that the commission was hoping to conclude the investigation before next month.
On March 4, Police summoned Tholhath for questioning over former President Mohamed Nasheed’s arrest of Abdulla Mohamed.
Criminal Court Chief Judge Abdulla Mohamed was arrested by the Maldives National Defence Force (MNDF) on the evening of Monday, January 16, in compliance with a police request.
The judge’s whereabouts were not revealed until January 18. The MNDF acknowledged receipt but did not comply with Supreme Court orders to release the judge.
Opposition political parties held a series of protests which culminated on the morning of February 7 with police joining opposition demonstrators in an assault on the MNDF’s headquarters, and the resignation of Nasheed – allegedly under duress – and the handover of the presidency to Vice President Dr Mohamed Waheed Hassan.
Last week, Former President Mohamed Nasheed was also summoned before HRCM, in connection to his role in the controversial detention of Criminal Court Chief Judge Abdulla Mohamed earlier this year.
The former president attributed the initial arrest call to his Defence Ministry, on the grounds of “protecting” national security relating to alleged ethical concerns about the judge.
On the day Nasheed resigned, Judge Abdulla was brought Male’ and released from his detention.
The first complaints against Abdulla Mohamed filed in July 2005 by then Attorney General Dr Hassan Saeed included allegations of misogyny, sexual deviancy, and throwing out an assault case despite the confession of the accused.
The Judicial Services Commission (JSC), the judicial watchdog, eventually formed a complaints committee to investigate the cases against Judge Abdulla in December 2009, which met 44 times but had failed to present a single report as of March 2011.
The JSC eventually concluded an investigation into politically-contentious comments made by Judge Abdulla Mohamed on DhiTV, but the report was never released after the judge sought a Civil Court injunction against his further investigation in September 2011.
Then-Home Minister Hassan Afeef subsequently accused the judge of “taking the entire criminal justice system in his fist”, listing 14 cases of obstruction of police duty including withholding warrants for up to four days, ordering police to conduct unlawful investigations and disregarding decisions by higher courts.
Afeef accused the judge of “deliberately” holding up cases involving opposition figures, barring media from corruption trials, ordering the release of suspects detained for serious crimes “without a single hearing”, and maintaining “suspicious ties” with family members of convicts sentenced for dangerous crimes.
The judge also released a murder suspect “in the name of holding ministers accountable”, who went on to kill another victim.
Then Vice President of the Maldives Dr Mohamed Waheed Hassan opposed the judge’s detention, stating on his blog that “I am ashamed and totally devastated by the fact that this is happening in a government in which I am the elected Vice President.”
Nasheed’s government requested assistance from the international community to reform the judiciary. Observing that judicial reform “really should come from the Judicial Services Commission (JSC)”, then Foreign Minister Ahmed Naseem said the commission’s shortcoming are “now an issue of national security.”