Friday, 20 September 2019 10:29 GMT

Amal Clooney's call for Maldives sanctions unjustified: Cherie Blair

(MENAFN - Gulf Times) Maldives government attorney Cherie Blair hit out Thursday at a call by fellow high-profile lawyer Amal Clooney for sanctions against the island nation over its treatment of dissidents.

The row centres on former Maldivian president Mohamed Nasheed, who was jailed for 13 years in March this year and whose rushed trial has been internationally condemned as a travesty of justice.

Clooney, a lawyer for the former leader, last week warned her team would press for targeted sanctions against key figures in the Maldives unless he was freed.

But Blair, who represents the Maldives government, said the sanctions call was "unjustified" and a threat to the economic stability of the honeymoon island, which depends on upscale tourism.

"The call for sanctions is inappropriate and unjustified," Blair, the wife of former British prime minister Tony Blair, said. "They ought not be used when dealing with a single case.

"The use of such sanctions threatens the economic stability of the Maldives," Blair said.

Nasheed was jailed after ordering the arrest of an allegedly corrupt judge when he was still president in 2012. The UN had said his rushed trial earlier this year was seriously flawed.

Clooney, who is married to Hollywood actor George Clooney, has described the human rights situation in the Indian Ocean archipelago as

"deteriorating day by day".

"The next stage will be to pursue targeted sanctions, travel bans and any other action and recourse that we have against the government until this matter is resolved," she told reporters last week.

Nasheed's Maldivian Democratic Party has also called for some 1,700 cases against dissidents in the Indian Ocean atoll nation to be dropped, arguing they are politically motivated.

His 13-year jail sentence was commuted to house arrest in July, but last month police took him back to prison in a surprise move that drew fresh criticism from the UN and the US.

Nasheed was the country's first democratically elected leader. He ruled from 2008 to February 2012, when he was forced to resign following a mutiny by police and troops.

State prosecutor is seeking to overturn the High Court's decision to reject the state initiated appeal of former president Mohamed Nasheed's 13 year prison sentence, according to Haveeru Online.

Prosecutor general's (PG) office in a statement confirmed that the Supreme Court has been asked to intervene in the matter.

PG office insisted that the appeal is well within the contours of the Maldives' constitution.

The statement also highlighted that despite the high court stressing that Nasheed still has the right to appeal his sentence, the ex-president has failed to do so and had stymied the state's attempt to initiate the appeal.

State had initiated the appeal based on the 'procedural irregularities' flagged by the defence during the trial. Nasheed had waived his right to appeal after claiming that the lower court had failed to provide trial records within the window for appeal.

The appellate court had made the decision after a pre-trial hearing to decide whether to accept the appeal.

Though the right to appeal was a constitutional right, as the appeal had not been filed by Nasheed, it cannot be accepted, high court's decision had said.

However, the ruling also said though the 10-day window of appeal had expired, stating an acceptable reason would still enable an aggrieved party to file the appeal.

The appellate court had also refuted some of the concerns raised by the defence during the trial.

Nasheed's legal team has continued to maintain that the fast-tracked trial had not allowed sufficient time to prepare and mount an effective defence.

Amal Clooney's call for Maldives sanctions unjustified: Cherie Blair

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