Maldives in state of emergency, top court blocks release of political prisoners

Maldives in state of emergency, top court blocks release of political prisoners

 

Maldives: The Maldives’ highest court on Tuesday revoked an order to release high-profile political prisoners a day after President Abdulla Yameen declared a state of emergency in the honeymoon islands and arrested two top judges on corruption charges.
The remaining three judges of the Supreme Court said they were rescinding their February 1 order to release the prisoners “in light of the concerns raised by the President”.
“The Supreme Court bench hereby rescinds number 5 of its order to release the individuals,” a statement said.
The court’s original decision signed by all five judges of the apex court had quashed a terrorism conviction against former president and opposition leader Mohamed Nasheed, among others.
The shock move was seen as clearing the way for Nasheed to end his self-imposed exile and return to the country to contest elections later this year.
But Yameen refused to comply with the order and instead declared the 15-day state of emergency, giving sweeping powers to troops to arrest and detain individuals while curtailing the powers of the judiciary and the legislature.
Maldives Chief Justice Abdulla Saeed and another judge were then arrested at dawn on Tuesday, after security forces stormed the court complex in the capital Male.
The latest U-turn of the court would take Nasheed back to square one, and is seen by opposition activists as a blow to their attempts at toppling Yameen — accused of plunging the tiny Indian Ocean nation into political turmoil.
However, the Supreme Court made no change to their other order to restore the seats of 12 legislators sacked for defecting from Yameen’s party.
This in theory gives the dissidents a majority in the assembly, but they are prevented from ousting the president because the declaration of a state of emergency takes away parliament’s power to impeach.