Crime Legal Politics

Supreme Court upholds conviction of jailed justices

The Supreme Court has rejected appeals from jailed Chief Justice Abdulla Saeed and Justice Ali Hameed, effectively removing the pair from the bench.

The three-judge bench decided Wednesday not to hear the cases of their former colleagues as there were “no grounds” to challenge the High Court judgment.

Saeed and Hameed were convicted of influencing official conduct in May. The High Court upheld the lower court verdict on June 3 but reduced the sentence to one year and two months.

Wednesday’s decision clears the way for the president to appoint replacements following confirmation by parliament.

Controversial legal changes were pushed through in March to remove judges once a conviction is upheld by the Supreme Court, the final stage of appeal.

The new rule circumvents the parliamentary vote to remove a Supreme Court Justice called for by the constitution, which requires a two-thirds majority to approve a finding of gross incompetence or misconduct by the judicial watchdog.

Parliament returns from recess next week with a pro-government majority, restored by the absence of a dozen lawmakers who have been stripped of their seats.

The top judges were arrested shortly after President Abdulla Yameen declared a state of emergency in response to the court’s order for the release of his jailed opponents, a shock ruling that was branded a “judicial coup” to remove the president from office.

Saeed and Hameed are also on trial for terrorism along with former president Maumoon Abdul Gayoom and other high-profile detainees.

They have denied all charges against them and denounced the trials.

Saeed was also convicted of obstructing state function. The appeal is yet to reach the apex court.

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Source URL:  Maldives Independent

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