Crime Legal Politics

Lawyers challenge evidence used to convict top judges


Lawyers representing jailed Chief Justice Abdulla Saeed and Justice Ali Hameed on Thursday challenged the evidence used to convict the pair of influencing lower court judges.

The country’s highest-ranking judges were found guilty earlier this month of influencing official conduct and sentenced to one year, seven months and six days in prison.

According to media reports of the High Court appeal hearing, lawyers questioned the integrity of two judges who had testified as secret witnesses and argued that their testimony was insufficient to prove guilt.

Failure to report the alleged influence casts doubt on their intention, lawyers added, noting their admission of following instructions from Saeed and Hameed to cancel arrest warrants and deliver verdicts.

Lawyers were reportedly unable to conclude presenting their 15-point appeal at Thursday’s hearing. The three-judge High Court panel said they could continue at the next hearing and asked the state to prepare written responses.

The criminal court trial of Saeed and Hameed was closed to the media and public. Both had pleaded not guilty.

In a separate trial, Saeed, the country’s first chief justice to face criminal prosecution, was also found guilty of obstruction of state functions and sentenced to four months and 24 days in prison.

Both judges face additional charges of obstruction of justice and terrorism in connection with an alleged coup plot, charges they have dismissed as politically motivated.

They were arrested on February 5 after President Abdulla Yameen declared a state of emergency following a Supreme Court order to release nine of his opponents and reinstate opposition lawmakers.

Their convictions will trigger automatic removal from the bench if the verdict is upheld by both the High Court and Supreme Court.

Controversial legal changes were pushed through in March to remove convicted judges without the parliamentary vote called for by the constitution, which requires a two-thirds majority to approve a finding of gross incompetence or misconduct by the judicial watchdog.

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Source URL:  Maldives Independent

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