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Ibrahim Luthfee's letter to Justice Minister Ahmed Zahir 1999
Islamic trial or Hindi raga?

Ibrahim Luthfee

To the Minister of Justice, the Honourable Ahmed Zahir
Greetings and I would like to say,

maldives justice minister ahmed zahir
Justice Minister
Ahmed Zahir

When someone files a case against another person, and is attempting to incriminate that person, the court should not facilitate this sort of action. If the court does act in this way, then it is nothing less than judging people under the law of the jungle.

If a trial is conducted according to justice and fairness, then the court should consider evidence from both the defendant and the complainant. If the court rulings are made only on the complainant's evidence, it will not provide justice and fairness. It is my view that if the evidence the defendant has to present to court is to be found in the government records, the court should order its presentation to the court.

Government records are not to be destroyed whenever someone feels like it. When there is clear evidence of the existence of such documentary evidence, it must be found.

When the complainant's evidence is not substantial, and there is inconsistent testimony from two witnesses, then to say that witness statements are 'incomplete', and 'further evidence is needed' from the complaint, is conducting a trial with bias. It is also a departure from justice to omit the main parts of the witnesses' statements, and then write a summary of their evidence in a way that hides the inconsistencies. When this happens, I do not think there is any reason for a trial.

Due to the above reasons, questions arise in my mind about the way Criminal Court Judge Abdullah Areef is conducting the trial on charges that the state has raised against me, alleging I was 'falsifying my name, address and father's name'. When I presented in my defence an official document proving that the police were in possession of my identity card, it was not given satisfactory consideration. When staff sergeant Jadullah Nazim gave evidence in court, no questions were put to him about my evidence that he was in possession of my identity card.

When a person is arrested in the police station, the police take away everything except for the clothes the person is wearing. When the police held me in custody at the police station on 22 February 1998, they took away everything I had on me. This included my identity card and driver's licence. Both of these documents are unaltered; they are official documents and clearly show my identity. After keeping me in custody in the police station, they sent me to Gaamaadhoo prison on 1 March 1998 and returned my identity card. But they kept the remaining things, like the driver's licence. The investigating officer, staff sergeant Jadullah Nazim, gave me an official document acknowledging this.

Doesn't this document prove that Jadullah Nazim was in possession of my identity when he carried out this investigation? How much evidence do the police need to prove that I did not falsify my name, address and father's name? When I was registered at the police station, was the information recorded in the register incorrect? Is the information in the letter I wrote in prison, and I sent through the prison's management to the President, also incorrect? Is the information in the Defence Ministry's register, that I signed when I was released from detention, incorrect as well?

According to what Attorney-General Dr Mohamed Munawar says, the moment the government officially files a case against an individual, the laws of Maldives allow the person to do all that person can in defence of himself or herself. So obstructing a defence, and stopping it, is an act in breach of the law. It is a violation of the rights and freedom of a person. The police have violated this freedom of mine.

Without a court sentence, the police have imprisoned me and kept me under house detention for nearly four months. They are unhappy about my claim in court that a policeman lied under oath. In order to to 'file me down to size', the police have imprisoned me. Is this also part of court proceedings? I was brought to the court from prison only once. Is this maintaining justice in its perfect form?

Is it also part of the rules, to come and tell me all of a sudden to attend court without any reasonable prior notice, and while I am under house arrest? Should I have to take responsibility for the court staff forgetting to send me the court summons? When the court summons had been sent informing me of the date and time of the court attendance, the police arrived long before the date and took me away in a jeep under 'emergency orders' and had me locked up in a holding cell in the court building until the end of office hours without providing any food. Is this also a step towards respecting and protecting the rights of the people? When a court trial is taking place, the defendant is being kept 'chained' and under house arrest. Is that done because otherwise the person may succeed in defending himself?

What I am trying to say is - things have reached such a point that it can be said the trial judge Abdullah Areef is under someone's control. After attending court on the 17th of this month, he said during a discussion that he was continuing the trial because 'evidence is incomplete'. This statement shows clearly that I am not guilty. Without realising it, the judge said very plainly why I have not been found guilty. So even a child would understand that I am certainly not guilty.

Attempting to summon other policemen to testify against me, after two policemen gave inconsistent evidence in court, is an indication that the judge is acting with bias against me. It is not something a judge would do in a just and fair trial. The judge should make a ruling based on the evidence presented to the court. However, when he informs the police that I cannot be found guilty yet and he needs more evidence, then he isn't running an Islamic trial; he's playing a long Hindi raga!

It is becoming clear that the evidence I present is not considered valid by the court. Obviously this means the purpose of the trial is to grant the wishes of the complainant, without any consideration for my rights. In a just and fair trial, the judge would not be biased. If the judge is prosecuting me, then the verdict is devoid of justice. Jadullah and Aseeth created and investigated my case. If the people who create a case also investigate it, will they respect my rights?

When I had doubts about the testimony of Sergeant Aseeth, I cross-examined him with the permission of the judge. He widened his eyes and changed his tone of voice and said to me 'I won't answer questions you ask.' What are we to understand from this? Is this the standard of behaviour for police at court? So just imagine the way these two policeman would have conducted my investigation. Any rational thinking person will not hesitate to agree that the testimonies of Jadullah Nazim and Aseeth are unacceptable. They manufactured and investigated the case.

In the absence of any statement carrying my signature and finger prints in which I have admitted to falsifying my name, address and father's name, the judge accepted evidence from these two men in court. This indicates that judge Abdullah Areef is under the influence of a powerful person. When I was repeating in court what Jadullah Nazim had said, the judge refused to hear some parts of my evidence, which indicates the judge was frightened of what he might hear. Therefore, I suspect that judge Abdullah Areef is facing pressure from a person with power and influence. In other words, the prosecutor is the manufacturer of the case as well. They investigate the case. They act as witnesses in court. Is this a modern day joke?

It is hard to believe that the activities of the courts run by the Ministry of Justice, under your capable control, would be subject to the influence of a second party. However, my experience proves that chiefs and the staff of the court are under the intimidation of someone who is more powerful than you.

The day I was taken to the court from the prison, I tried to see the chief judge, Ahmed Mohamed, but could not, because I wasn't there under court orders at the time. I was told that the chief judge said he would see me on the day my trial takes place. So I believe I was summoned to the court on police orders. On that day, I was kept in the court building and then taken to the police station. This is a very confusing system of court procedure.

On the 19th of this month, the police came and told me I had to go to the Defence Ministry. They took me to the court instead, and I asked the secretary if I could see the chief judge. At that moment, I was pointed in the direction of a set of chairs and I sat down. Immediately a policeman told me not to sit there. The court secretary and other staff witnessed this scene. I got up and repeatedly asked the secretary where I should sit. I was told to sit in the same place and I sat there. The policeman became angry and pointed at me and said, 'Didn't I tell you to stand up? You sit where we tell you. We brought you here.' The policeman was throwing up his hands in way that degraded the court building, speaking loudly and in the presence many staff he pointed to the office staff and said, 'They don't know where you should sit. Have you heard what I said?' I obeyed his orders, and was told to sit in a small holding cell. This proves that the Criminal Court is under the power and control of the police. Can it mean anything else?

Honourable Justice Minister, is the Criminal Court really a military court? Is it a court run by the police department? Or is it a court run by the Justice Ministry under your authority? Would you please explain this confusing system of court procedure that the common people cannot understand? In my opinion, judgment was passed on the last day of the trial, when the judge accidentally said that the evidence presented had failed to prove the offence. There is unequivocal evidence of my innocence. Other evidence, brought in to convict me of something else, cannot be added to the case. Only judge Abdullah Areef knows what is in store for me.

Please accept my respects,
21 October 1999

Yours sincerely
[Luthfee's signature]

Ibrahim Moosa Luthfee
Fenmuli, Hithadhoo, Seenu

Ministry of Justice
Male', Maldives

Copy to:
President al-usthaz Maumoon Abdul Gayyoom
Advisor of the Supreme Council of Islamic Affairs
Speaker of the People's Majlis
Members of the People's Majlis
Members of the Cabinet
The Chief Justice of Maldives
Chief Justice of the Criminal Court
Candidates of the General Elections 1999

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