Criminal Court halts closed-door testimony cases

Criminal Court. (File Photo/Sun/Fayaz Moosa)

All the cases involving closed-door testimonies in the Criminal Court has been halted.

In a case decided by the Criminal Court involving former Chief Justice Abdulla Saeed which was later appealed to the High Court, it was ruled that there was no legal procedure and basis for secret testimonies in the country.

The part of the verdict which read that the current procedure for secret testimonies in the country was incorrect has been appealed to the Supreme Court by the Prosecutor General’s Office.

A trusted source has informed “Sun” that all the cases involving secret testimonies in the Criminal Court have been halted until the Supreme Court decides on the issue.

Some cases involving secret testimonies currently underway at the Criminal Court include the case of Mohamed Ameen from Kariyyavillaa, Fuvahmulah city who is accused of aiding terrorism. The defense in the case has requested to reveal the secret testimonies given against Ameen in the case.

While the confirmation of charges hearing and responding to the charges by the defense in the case is yet to be held, the court has decided, upon the request of the defense, to hold the case until a decision is reached by the Supreme Court regarding the testimonies.

PG office media officials have confirmed that the Supreme Court had accepted the appeal in the issue of secret testimonies.

Laws related to evidence in the country only state that such testimonies are to be taken in the prescribed manner in order to protect the witness.

The Criminal Procedure Code of Maldives, article (147), (A), states that if the trial is an open one, testimonies should be taken under oath during the trial hearings.

Article (149) (A) states that even if the witness testimonies are to be heard during trial hearings the judge has the discretion to take secret testimonies under the evidence laws of the country to protect the witnesses upon a request by the state.

However, the act regarding evidence which was ratified in 1976 does not specifically state on the situations when a secret testimony is admissible or how such witnesses are to be protected during and after giving testimoniesk, causing questions to arise.