Legal Politics

Court asked to throw out obstruction charge against chief justice

The Criminal Court was Thursday asked to throw out obstruction of government function charges against Chief Justice Abdulla Saeed.

Prosecutors asked the presiding judge to allow three anonymous witnesses and secret documents as evidence at a preliminary hearing of the case.

Defence lawyers argued against it, requesting the court to throw out the case as the charges were brought in violation of the criminal procedures act.

The charge of obstructing government function follows allegations that Saeed ordered the shutdown of an online communications portal used across government agencies called the government e-letter management system (GEMS) on February 4 and 5.

Saeed denies the charge.

President Abdulla Yameen accused Saeed and another judge of ordering the shut down of GEMS in order to hamper communications between the Supreme Court and his office after the February 1 Supreme Court ruling that said authorities must free jailed political detainees.

Prosecutor Shamlaa Shameem told the court there were concerns about attempts to influence witnesses and potential for physical attacks against them if they were not allowed to give anonymous statements in court.

Defence lawyer Noorusalam Abubakuru said there was no evidence that the prosecutor general gave written permission to file the charges and noted that the time of the crime was missing from the charge sheet.

He also said the audio and video recordings submitted as evidence had not been shared with the defence, as stipulated in the criminal procedures act, and asked the court to share the evidence and give enough time for the defence to prepare.

Judge Ibrahim Ali said he would give opportunity for opposing arguments at the next hearing.

Saeed faces a sentence of up to five months if found guilty.

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Source URL:  Maldives Independent

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