As I wrote earlier this week, there is substantial reason to question the health of Mongolia’s democracy. Former President Enkhbayar’s three-day trial demonstrated to the world the corruption of current President Elbegdorj’s regime. The politically driven assault on Enkhbayar has exposed the lack of independence of the judiciary and collusion at the highest levels of government.
I am compelled to write again on this subject as there continues to be far too little attention paid to this gross injustice. Sources within Mongolia have provided me with new information that only confirms what I have been arguing for several months: Enkhbayar is the victim of an unethical government, which shows no signs of reform or improvement.
To be sure, there was a conflict between the dramatic way in which Enkhbayar was arrested by several hundred police and military personnel and the relative insignificance of the charges levied against him. Further, his treatment in prison was so poor that Amnesty International had to step in on his behalf.
S. Narangerel, Enkhbayar’s lawyer, submitted a request to the court that all key witnesses and experts should be present during the entirety of the trial, which was subsequently refused. Many of those on his list did not attend or were in London attending the Olympics. And though Enkhbayar responded to each of the charges, he was sentenced as guilty in each despite evidence to the contrary and given no explanation as to what extent he had been involved in the charge.
On the ruling, Narangerel said, “The court handed down their verdict in spite of having not proven even the slightest indication of crime. It became obvious that the aim in sentencing N. Enkhbayar was to remove a political opponent. It proved the judiciary is subject to the State.”
He was not the only one to express this sentiment. L. Erdenetuul, a political analyst, alleged that the court “sentenced an innocent person.” And many comments on websites across Mongolia have expressed concern over the court’s decision based on hearsay and the court’s thinly veiled interest in sentencing Enkhbayar no matter the evidence.
Interestingly, President Elbegdorj was out of the country during Enkhbayar’s trial, arriving in London for the Olympics the day before it began. He opened the London Stock Exchange and met the Royal Family, signaling in the press that he had the stamp of international approval all the while overseeing the abuse of human rights and the rule of law back home.
Though Enkhbayar has been sentenced, this is not over. He is in the process of making an appeal to the higher court and the international community must support him in this endeavor. It is our responsibility to protect democracy and the rule of law not only in the West, but all across the world.