Legal Politics

Opposition denounces conviction of chief justice

The opposition denounced a five-month jail sentence handed to Chief Justice Abdulla Saeed, as ambassadors from the US and UK questioned the possibility of free and fair polls this year.

Saeed’s arrest and prosecution were unlawful, unconstitutional and politically motivated, Jumhooree Party deputy leader Dr Hussain Rasheed Hassan told reporters at a joint opposition press conference on Tuesday.

“The trial was like a stick of firecrackers burning, it was concluded at such speed,” he said, noting the court’s refusal to call the chief justice’s defence witnesses.

The chief justice was made a “sacrificial lamb” for political purposes, he added.

Other opposition figures and lawyers stressed the lack of any law that mandates the use of the government’s e-letter management system.

Saeed was found guilty of obstructing state functions by blocking the delivery of letters from President Abdulla Yameen, which outlined legal concerns with executing a Supreme Court order that quashed the convictions of nine of his opponents and reinstated 12 opposition lawmakers. He denied the charge.

He was arrested together with Justice Ali Hameed and the chief judicial administrator hours after Yameen invoked emergency powers on February 5. Citing a plot to remove him from office and a “constitutional crisis” triggered by the court’s shock ruling, Yameen suspended several constitutional rights and legal provisions that protected judges from arrest before security forces stormed the Supreme Court.

Atul Keshap, the American ambassador to the Maldives, observed in the wake of the guilty verdict that the ranks of political prisoners and self-exiled leaders now include former presidents, vice presidents, top judges and lawmakers.

“How will free and fair elections happen under such conditions?” he asked.

Terrorism and bribery charges were raised against high-profile detainees rounded up during the 45-day state of emergency, including former president Maumoon Abdul Gayoom.

Several hearings in Gayoom’s trials have been cancelled for the past two days due to the poor health of the 82-year-old former strongman.

Hearings on the terrorism trials of MPs Abdulla Sinan and Saud Hussain scheduled for Wednesday were also cancelled for undisclosed reasons.

Full details are available at the link below:

Source URL:  Maldives Independent

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