MALE – A criminal court has awarded nearly five months jail to country’s chief justice after it found him guilty of obstructing government administration and justice, for the first time in the history of the Maldives .
The court sentenced Abdulla Saeed to four months and 24 days for allegedly shutting down the Supreme Court’s Government E-letter Management System (GEMS) in the wake of its landmark ruling on Feb 1. The court had ordered the release of President Yameen Abdul Gayoom’s nine political rivals, including Mohamed Nasheed, the country’s first president elected in a free election in 2008, and to reinstate unseated legislators.
The political chaos of Maldives – the honeymoon islands – deepened in early Feb after the chief justice and other top judges of the apex court were arrested following proclamation of emergency by President Yameen after court orders.
Following the initial verdict, letters were sent to the court requesting to review the ruling, but the top court refused to accept the letters deliberately on Saeed’s orders, the government claimed.
Nasheed was sentenced to 13 years in prison on terrorism charges but now lives in Britain after receiving asylum. Nasheed’s release would have allowed him to contest a presidential election later this year in a formidable challenge to Yameen’s re-election bid.
After the arrests of their colleagues, the remaining three Supreme Court justices nullified their order to release Yameen’s opponents.