by Azra Naseem
Law and order appears to have gone a bit schizophrenic in the Maldives in the last few days. First the Maldives Police Service (MPS) arrested its intelligence head, Chief Superintendent (MC) Mohamed Hameed, on charges of ‘endangering internal security’ by disclosing classified information.
Hameed is alleged to have co-operated with the co-authors of ‘The Police and Military Coup’, an MDP-affiliated investigation into the events of 7 February 2012. The report was released in response to the current government’s ‘findings’ into the events, published so prematurely as to be available for public feedback even before investigations began.
MPS says drafts of the Coup Report, along with commentary, were found in MC Hameed’s gmail account. (Nobody has yet answered the question of why MPS was snooping around in the man’s private email account in the first place. Is it normal for MPS to spy on their officers?)
Then the Criminal Court granted MPS a five-day extension to Hameed’s detention. He was promptly taken to Dhoonidhoo, Maldives’ most famous prison island. Hameed’s lawyers lodged an appeal at the High Court on the same day but was not granted a hearing until the fifth and last day of his detention. Three Justices agreed unanimously that he should be detained for five days, just hours before the five-day detention period expired.
Now, is it just me, or is it a bit difficult to get your head around the question of why the High Court would deign to deliver that judgement at that particular time? Three more hours, and the detention order would no longer be valid anyway. So what was the eleventh hour High Court ruling for?
The High Court’s behaviour becomes all the more inexplicable in light of the fact that shortly afterwards the Criminal Court released Hameed. It saw no grounds to detain him further. All told, the judiciary does not seem to know quite what to do, with itself or, with a problem like Hameed.
What is to be done with Hameed? Was he ‘spying for the enemy camp’ as some are alleging? Or is he a heroic whistle-blower? Is he to be jailed for life, or celebrated as a voice that stood up for democracy?