Legal Politics

Maldives top court U-turn on releasing political prisoners

political prisoners

The convicted politicians to be released under the Supreme Court’s landmark ruling: ABOVE L-R: Faris Maumoon, Qasim Ibrahim, Mohamed Nasheed, Imran Abdulla; BELOW L-R: Mohamed Nazim, Ahmed Nihan, Ahmed Adheeb, Hamid Ismail, Muhtaz Muhusin. IMAGE/MIHAARU

The Supreme Court on Tuesday evening took an abrupt U-turn on its landmark ruling as it revoked its previous decisions to release political prisoners and bar the judicial watchdog from investigating top court judges.

In the landmark verdict that had taken the Maldives’ political landscape by storm last Thursday night, the apex court had ordered the immediate release of nine convicted prominent politicians, including former President Mohamed Nasheed, former Vice President Ahmed Adheeb, Jumhoory Party leader Qasim Ibrahim and Adhaalath Party leader Sheikh Imran Abdulla.

The ruling further reinstated 12 lawmakers that were unseated from the parliament last year for defecting from the ruling party and annulled the top court’s previous ban on floor-crossing. The Supreme Court had also earlier issued a ruling that the Judicial Services Commission (JSC) could not investigate any of the apex court judges.

However, in its latest ruling Tuesday night, the Supreme Court annulled the order to free the political prisoners and reinstated the judicial watchdog’s authority over the court. It did not, however, revoke the decision to reinstate the suspended legislators.

The new order was signed by the three judges remaining on the Supreme Court. The court’s Chief Justice Abdulla Saeed and Judge Ali Hameed were arrested in the early hours of Tuesday during a crackdown after President Abdulla Yameen declared a 15-day state of emergency late on Monday night. The two justices were taken into police custody under accusations of graft.

In the wake of the arrests, the Department of Judicial Administration (DJA) had stated that the Supreme Court was still functioning smoothly with the remaining three justices.

Yameen had in his first presidential decree concerning the state of emergency suspended Article 145 of the Constitution to curb the authority of the Supreme Court, along with several other Articles that effectively curtailed the powers of the parliament, banned the impeachment of the country’s leadership and allowed security forces to make unwarranted arrests. However, prior to the Supreme Court’s new verdict, the president had lifted the restriction of Article 145, returning power to the apex court.

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Source URL: Mihaaru-News

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