Maldives opposition parties have accused the sitting government of influencing the judiciary to manipulate the trial of former president Abdulla Yameen after the presiding judge in the case was suspended just 24hours prior to the scheduled sentencing.
Criminal Court’s Chief Judge Ahmed Hailam was suspended by the Judicial Service Commission on November 4, hours before the scheduled sentencing of Yameen on November 5.
The JSC, controlled by the government, said that they are conducting an investigation on Hailam’s ethical behaviour after the judge shared a cartoon of President Solih in a Viber chat group for the court’s employees. The cartoon, made in the occasion of Maldives Victory Day on November 3, shows captured rebels who attacked the country 31years ago, with President Solih and former president Mohamed Nasheed in the back of the line.
Judge Hailam’s suspension came after he publicly apologised for the cartoon. Hailam stated that he did not recognize Solih who was depicted at the very back of the captured rebels.
Judge Hailam has, meanwhile, stated that top government officials had reached out to him and demanded an assurance of a jail sentence for president Yameen. “Several senior officials in the government phoned me and sent me texts demanding an assurance that I sentence Abdulla Yameen to jail,” a statement released by Hailam read. The opposition parties have condemned the government and the JSC and accused the state of swindling justice for internal and global political gain. “The suspension of judge Hailam is only based on the Yameen’s trial,” Abduh Raheem Abdulla, Vice President of the People’s National Congress said.
The opposition called on the government and relevant bodies to investigate Hailam’s accusation of threat and intimidation by the government. However, the parliament has not approved an inquiry yet.
The delegation included the first vice during president Yameen’s rule, Dr Mohamed Jameel Ahmed, who is also part of Yameen’s legal team. PPM’s Vice President and Naifaru MP Ahmed Shiyam, Congress Party’s Deputy President and Maavashu MP Mohamed Saeed and Deputy President of Congress Party Ahmed Hassan were also part of the delegation.
President Yameen favoured a foreign policy of inclusivity and built relations with China and Pakistan which led to the demise of the Maldives-India relationship. After India showed bullying tactics and insisted that Maldives grants permission to operate an Indian military helicopter, President Yameen visited Pakistan to garner support.
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