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The Luthfee Letters Part 7
Magistrate and court administration staff join NSS harassment campaign

by Ibrahim Luthfee
Male' 1999
translated by Maldives Culture editors

Ibrahim Luthfee's legal problems began when he refused to rent the house he was occupying to the Minister of Health Ahmed Abdullah for new offices of the Miadhu newspaper which is sometimes edited by President Gayyoom. Luthfee and his family were subjected to continuous harrassment by NSS officers and others acting on behalf of this minister and his associates. Sustained by the power of his conscience and Islamic faith, Luthfee refused to submit to these injustices. His enraged NSS captors continued to make false allegations and keep him in prison without legal reason. Many other Maldivians experience the same treatment if they question or defy the arbitrary decisions of their rulers.
Luthfee now appears in court to answer ludicrous charges of hiding his identity. He was expecting a fair hearing but as the farce continues, it becomes obvious that the magistrate has joined the plot against him.


The trial alleging the falsification of name and address re-commences
On 7 October 1999 Jadullah [from the National Security Service, NSS] was present to give evidence. Before the court proceedings began, I asked Jadullah if I had phoned his mother and verbally abused her. He replied that he was not aware that I phoned his mother.

Jadullah took the oath invoking Allah's name according to the trial procedure laws, to speak the truth and nothing but the truth, but without touching the Quran. When the magistrate recited the oath for him I was looking at Jadullah's mouth and listening to what he was saying very carefully. The phrase 'I take the oath by the name of Allah' he repeated very softly. Considering the movement of his lips, it can be said that he said 'do not take the oath in the name of Allah'. But the sad thing is there was no recording system, so there is no way to question whether he took the oath properly or not.

Magistrate: Regarding the statements Ibrahim Moosa Luthufee, who is present here, gave to the police on 22 February 1998; when you questioned him to obtain this statement, did he say he was Ibrahim Luthufee?
Jadullah: I cannot recollect word for word. What is written in that staement is what he had said. When the police conduct investigations, (now I am not working in the policeforce, but referring to the time I worked there), when we summon a person for investigation for the first time, we ask the name and address of the person and write the name in the statement.
Magistrate: Did he say his address is Emmudige of Seenu Hithadhoo?
Jadullah: I can't remember. What he said will be in the statement.
Magistrate: What did he say his father's name was? Was it Ali Moosa?
Jadullah: I cannot remember. In the statement will be what he said. In the statement is the information he gave, I did not write anything else.
Magistrate: Why didn't Ibrahim Moosa Luthufee sign the statement?
Jadullah: When I finished writing the statement, he read it and asked if he would be sentenced. I said that he would get some sort of sentence, but the extent of the sentence will be up to the court magistrate. When I said that, he refused to sign.


In my defence, I strongly challenged the testimony of Jadullah. Because I had doubts about Jadullah's oath, I pointed to the book and asked him if he was telling the truth after taking the oath in the name of Allah who revealed the Holy Quran. He replied yes by nodding his head.

Luthfee (me): Jadullah, did you summon me to the police station in July or August of 1998 when I was accused of falsifying my name and address? And since then have you summoned me to the police station?... Jadullah, please answer my question. Did you summon me?... Honourable judge, I would like to hear Jadullah say if he summoned me or not. Please answer.
Jadullah: I can only answer the judge's questions.
Magistrate: Did you summon him?
Jadullah: Yes, I did.
Luthfee: What was the reason for summoning?
Jadullah: I cannot remember.
Luthfee: You summoned me and took a statement, didn't you?
Jadullah: I don't remember taking a statement.
Luthfee: In that statement, didn't you write that I did not falsify my name and address?
Jadullah: I don't remember writing that.
Luthfee: Honourable judge, I have no further questions to ask Jadullah. He is plainly lying. When I was first checked in at the police station, my full name was recorded in the book. There is a document acknowledging that Jadullah was in possession of my identity card. There are letters I wrote to the President and sent via the prison's division when I was in prison, which contained my full name and address. And the reply to the letter I sent to the President's office, has my full name and address. The letter I sent to Adam Zahir while I was in prison contained my full name and address, and the register I signed at the Defence Department on the day I was released from custody contained my full name and address. Please bring all this evidence to the court. These are not documents I have created. These are official government documents I am talking about.


Then Jadullah was allowed to leave the court and the next police officer brought in was Aseeth. He took oath as normal.

Magistrate: One document says 'Hassan Aseeth' and the other has another 'Aseeth'. What's the correct one here?

Aseeth handed over his identity card to the magistrate.

Magistrate: On 22 February 1998, when Ibrahim Moosa Luthufee here was summoned to the police and questioned. In his statement did he say his name is Ibrahim Luthufee?
Aseeth: I cannot remember at all. What is written there, is what he said.
Magistrate: Did he say his address was Seenu Hithadhoo Emmudige?
Aseeth: I cannot remember at all. What he said is in the statement.
Magistrate: Did he say his father's name is Moosa Ali?
Aseeth: It is written there, what he said.
Magistrate: Why didn't he sign that statement?
Aseeth: He said he would not sign.
Magistrate: Why did he say he would not sign?
Aseeth: He emphatically said he would not sign.
Magistrate: Did he give any reason why he would not sign?
Aseeth: He said that he would not sign, without giving any reason. He just said that he would not sign.
Magistrate: What did he say then?
Aseeth: He said many things. I cannot remember any of them.

The magistrate read out Aseeth's statement.

Luthfee: Your honour, please grant me the opportunity to question Aseeth. Aseeth could you please tell us the statement you are refering to, when it was taken, and if you were present?
Magistrate: In Aseeth's statement it says that he was present.
Luthfee: I would like to ask Aseeth whether he went to Vinoalia house to arrest me. Aseeth please answer.

Aseeth jumped up with wide eyes and said to me with a changed voice, 'I'm not going to answer questions you ask.'

Magistrate: Let me say this to you, in court during a trial proceeding it is prohibited to speak disrespectfully. No party is to address the other in disrespectful language.
Luthfee: Your honour, see for yourself. This is how the police behave. This is a court proceeding. This is the extent they go to, even here! So what would it be like in the police station? Please imagine how investigations would be carried out in the police station. I have no further questions to ask him.

Summary of Aseeth's statement to the court, recorded by the magistrate: '... This is a statement given by Ibrahim Moosa Luthufee, giving his name as Ibrahim Luthufee. His address is Emmudige, Hithadhoo island, Seenu atoll, and his father's name is Moosa Ali. When he was told to sign the statement he refused to sign, and spoke at length.'

I mentioned that a very important part of the statement had been omitted. I told the magistrate that the person who gave evidence first, said that I refused to sign and gave a reason, but Aseeth is saying clearly that I refused to sign without providing a reason. This should be expressly and clearly written in his statement because there is inconsistency in the evidence given by the two witnesses.

Magistrate: Isn't Aseeth also saying that Ibrahim Luthufee would not sign and spoke at length, and now he cannot remember any of it.
Luthfee: But he also is saying plainly that I refused to sign without giving any reason. So please reconsider this sentence and include it in his statement.
Magistrate: Even if it is not written in those words, what is the problem?
Luthfee: There is a very serious problem. It is to show the big discrepancy between what the previous witness said and what Aseeth said.
Magistrate: Isn't it alright to write it this way?
Luthfee: Your honour heard him say that I refused to sign without giving any reason. This is a very important point which demonstrates the inconsistency of the testimonies, isn't that so? The state prosecutor here would have heard it. I definitely heard that. I mention this because Aseeth said these things.

Even when I repeatedly pointed to the omissions made in the statement based on what Aseeth said, the magistrate refused to refer to the matter either directly or indirectly. So I said to the magistrate:

Luthfee: Your honour, please write down a statement from me and in that statement please include that Aseeth said that, and this is the issue we are discussing. And also I would like to mention many other things.
Magistrate: I grant you, Ibrahim Moosa Luthufee, the opportunity to write down all the things you would like to say in a report form and present to the court. I declare that today's court proceedings end here and will notify you when the next court session will be held.
Luthfee: When will this trial end? I have been in detetion now for nearly 4 months. Is Your honour aware that I have three children and a wife to look after. As this case lengthens like this, think of the loss it is causing me?
Magistrate: We have to summon another person to the court. I am trying to finalise the case as soon as I can. As soon as the police bring him to the court the trial will re-commence.
Luthfee: Do you have a grudge against me?
Magistrate: Why do you ask that?
Luthfee: The police said to me that they will get you to sentence me because I said that Faseehu lied under oath. They were unhappy about that, and they put me in jail and shaved my head. Look at what they have done to my head. (Here he interrupted what I was saying)
Magistrate: All those things you would like to say, write them in a report and present it to the court.

After this day's trial, there was no news and on 17 October at 10.10 a.m. someone came from the court and told me the trial will be held again at 10.30 a.m. that very day.

I contacted the court by phone to find out why, all of a sudden, without any notification or phone message, the trial was being held. Their reply was that they forgot to inform me. And yet they asked me to attend to the trial proceedings that very day! I said that it was very difficult for me to attend to the court all of sudden and present my arguments and so I asked if it was possible to defer the trial until the next day. I heard a girl in the background say, 'Tell him if he did not come to the court we can inform the police and send the jeep to bring him to the court. Remind him that he is under the detention of the police.'

After this reply I quickly called a taxi and and went to the court. But the magistrate said that the trial has been deferred to another day. I mentioned to the magistrate that when I phoned to enquire about why I was ordered to attend to court all of a sudden without any notification, I was told they could bring me with police help. He said that the staff forgot to send the court notice. Then they gave me a notice saying that the trial will be held on 24 October and sent me to the house.







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