Crime Legal

Second secret trial held for detained judges

The criminal court on Sunday decided to hold a second secret hearing for Chief Justice Abdulla Saeed and Justice Ali Hameed on charges of influencing official conduct.

A criminal court spokesman declined to comment on the reason for holding the hearing behind closed doors.

Their lawyers were not available for comment at the time of going to press. The judges have yet to respond to the charge, but their arrests have been condemned as politically motivated.

The first pre-trial hearing was also closed to the public and media. Journalists were told it would be secret when they went to register at court.

Local media reported the two judges had been given five days to appoint lawyers.

Former attorney general Dhiyana Saeed said trials can only be held behind closed doors when public interest makes closure compulsory.

Although hearings have been closed in this trial, pre-trial hearings for the judges and former president Maumoon Abdul Gayoom on separate obstruction charges were open.

Gayoom, Saeed and Hameed are also facing trial on charges of terrorism and bribery over an alleged conspiracy to oust President Abdulla Yameen. They are to be detained for the duration of the terrorism trials, which have yet to commence.

Yameen’s administration contends that the Supreme Court instigated a coup and triggered a constitutional crisis with its February 1 order for the release of his jailed opponents and the reinstatement of opposition lawmakers.

Along with Gayoom, Saeed and Hameed were arrested hours after Yameen invoked emergency powers on February 5 and suspended constitutional rights and legal immunities for judges.

The judicial watchdog earlier suspended the pair without pay.

The charge of influencing official conduct carries a jail sentence of more than nine months. If convicted of terrorism, the judges could face up to 15 years in prison.

Saeed is the first chief justice in modern Maldivian history to face criminal prosecution.

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Source URL:  Maldives Independent

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