Maldives govt using courts to silence opponents: Nasheed’s lawyers

epaselect epa05120096 Former President of Maldives Mohamed Nasheed (L) and British lawyer Amal Clooney (R) leave after a meeting with British Prime Minister David Cameron (not pictured) at 10 Downing Street in London, Britain, 23 January 2016. The former president of the Maldives has been granted temporary release from prison to fly to Britain for surgery.  EPA/ANDY RAIN

Former President of Maldives Mohamed Nasheed (L) and British lawyer Amal Clooney (R) leave after a meeting with British Prime Minister David Cameron (not pictured) at 10 Downing Street in London, Britain, 23 January 2016. The former president of the Maldives has been granted temporary release from prison to fly to Britain for surgery. EPA/ANDY RAIN

The government is using the court system to silence opponents including former president Mohamed Nasheed and every other opposition leader, Nasheed’s international legal team said Tuesday.

In a statement after the Supreme Court upheld a terrorism conviction against Nasheed, London based human rights lawyer Amal Clooney said “the latest ruling is the final rubber stamp on a corrupt trial and confirms that the constitutional guarantee of due process is not worth the paper it is written on in the Maldives”.

Nasheed was sentenced in March 2015 after he was convicted on a terror-related charge which the United Nations said was politically motivated.

Facing intense international criticism, the government of the Maldives took the unusual step of appealing the conviction based on Nasheed’s claim that he did not have adequate time to prepare for the trial.

But Judge Abdulla Saeed ruled on Monday that Nasheed, now leader of the opposition, had been given “sufficient time to present his defence”.

Amal who is the wife of Hollywood star George Clooney also said Supreme Court’s appeals ruling was “full of contradictions” and that the bench appeared to have deliberately overlooked major procedural violations in the trial, including the fact that President Nasheed was prevented from calling any defence witnesses.

Her co-counsel, Jared Genser said the court had failed to consider the defence’s arguments.

“… demonstrates yet again that the judiciary is merely a tool of President Abdulla Yameen [Abdul Gayoom] and is neither independent nor impartial,” Genser was quoted in the statement.

The ruling against Nasheed follows similar verdicts against President Yameen’s political opponents. Former Defense Minister Mohamed Nazim, also jailed for terrorism last year, saw his appeal thrown out by the Supreme Court bench on Sunday.

Nazim’s conviction has also been widely condemned, including by the United States and Amnesty International.

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