South Asians for Human Rights

Promoting Democracy, Upholding Human Rights

A lawyer for the Maldives’ jailed former president was stabbed in the islands’ capital ahead of a visit by his international legal team, including leading human rights activist Amal Clooney, his party said today.

Lawyer Mahfooz Saeed underwent emergency surgery and was in a stable condition following the attack yesterday evening in Male, ex-leader Mohamed Nasheed’s Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) said.

“There were many people who saw the incident. The attackers were also caught on CCTV cameras,” Shauna Aminath, a spokeswoman for the MDP, of which Saeed is also a member, told AFP.

The party believes the attack was politically motivated, she said.

Amnesty International condemned the assault and called on the Maldivian government to bring the perpetrators to justice.

“This vicious attack must not go unpunished – Maldives authorities must ensure that human rights defenders can work free from fear of reprisals and that those responsible are held to account,” the human rights group said in a statement.

The attack came as London-based Clooney, whose husband is actor George Clooney, is due to travel to the Maldives next week to meet with Nasheed.

She is part of the ex-leader’s high-profile legal team along with Jared Genser — who has represented Myanmar’s Aung San Suu Kyi — and Ben Emmerson, a judge on international criminal tribunals for Rwanda and former Yugoslavia.

The United States, the European Union and India have expressed concern at the jailing of Nasheed for 13 years for ordering the detention of a judge in 2012 when he was still president.

Last week, the US pressed the Maldives to release Nasheed after he was returned to prison, despite an order in July commuting his 13-year term to house arrest.

The Maldivian authorities have said the order commuting the sentence was fake, a claim disputed by Nasheed’s lawyers.

Nasheed, a climate change activist who was also imprisoned during the three-decade rule of former strongman Maumoon Abdul Gayoom, was elected president in the country’s first democratic elections in 2008.

He was toppled in February 2012 after a mutiny by police and troops that followed weeks of protests over the arrest of a top judge.

Nasheed’s jailing and the subsequent unrest have tarnished the image of the Maldives as an upmarket tourist destination. Updated On: September 05, 2015