The South Asian Times

18 October 2018 12:59 PM

Top Maldivian judges arrested after emergency declaration

By IANS

Male, Feb 6: The Maldivian police on Tuesday arrested the country's Chief Justice and another judge after the government of President Abdulla Yameen declared a state of emergency, media reports said.

Chief Justice Abdulla Saeed and Justice Ali Hameed were arrested from the Supreme Court at around 3 a.m., after an almost seven-hour siege of the premises by the security forces, reports the Maldives Independent.

The Army scaled the court building and held staff and judges under military supervision.

The judges were later taken to a detention facility outside the capital, Male.

Judicial administrator Hassan Saeed was also arrested after midnight and his residence was raided for the second time.

The reason for the judges' arrest remains unknown. However, the Maldives Police Service has said that there was evidence that could implicate Saeed and Hameed.

President Yameen declared the state of emergency on Monday night, giving a range of powers to the security forces to make arrests, and banning public gatherings.

Former President Maumoon Abdul Gayoom, who has allied himself with the opposition that rejects the state of emergency, was also arrested on Monday night, the Maldives Independent reported.

Before being arrested, Gayoom released a video saying that he has not "done anything to warrant arrest" and urging them to "remain strong". His son-in-law Mohamed Nadheem was also arrested.

The charges for the two men include bribing lawmakers and plotting to overthrow the government.

Gayoom and Nadheem were taken to a detention facility on the island of Dhoonidhoo.

Maldives has been facing days of unrest after the Supreme Court issued a ruling last week to release top opposition political leaders including former President Mohamed Nasheed and former Vice President Ahmed Adeeb.

The court said in a brief statement that they must be freed until fair trials could be conducted without undue influence.

The government has already suspended Parliament and has ordered the Army to resist any moves by the Supreme Court to impeach the President.

Earlier on Monday, Yameen wrote three letters to the Supreme Court explaining the challenges being faced in implementing the court order.

Due to the turmoil, Maldives is under pressure from international powers, reports the BBC.

The US State Department said it was "troubled and disappointed" by the developments.

The US National Security Council warned in a tweet that "the world is watching".

British Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson called on President Yameen to lift the state of emergency.

"The damage being done to democratic institutions in Maldives and the sustained misuse of process in Parliament is deeply worrying," he said in a statement.

India, China and the UK have issued travel warnings to the country that is made up of 26 coral atolls and 1,192 individual islands.

Update: 05 Feb, 2018

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