UK welcomes Maldives top court order, hopes for swift compliance

The United Kingdom (UK) joined India and the US to welcome the Supreme Court's decision to order the Maldives government to release all jailed political leaders including self-exiled former president Mohamed Nasheed.

"I know yesterday's decision by the Supreme Court that reasserts the independence of the judiciary will be widely welcomed in Maldives," UK high commissioner to Maldives James Dauris said on Twitter.

"Friends around the international community will be hoping that the government complies with the Court's ruling quickly and unconditionally."

In addition to Nasheed, the other top political leaders named in the order included Jumhoory Party (JP) leader Gasim Ibrahim, religiously conservative Adhaalath Party (AP) leader Sheikh Imran Abdulla, former defence minister Mohamed Nazim, former vice president Ahmed Adheeb Abdul Ghafoor and deposed ruling party leader Maumoon Abdul Gayoom's lawmaker son Faris Maumoon.

The others named in the order included former prosecutor general Muhthaz Muhsin, magistrate Ahmed Nihan and Adheeb's brother in law Hamid Ismail.

The court said the questionable and politically motivated nature of the trials of the political leaders warrants a re-trial and ordered the authorities to immediately free the jailed leaders until a court of law sentences otherwise.

The court has ordered relevant authorities to strictly enforce the order and warned legal action against anyone who refuses to obey the court order.

The court had also annulled its anti-defection ruling and ordered the country's electoral watchdog to re-instate the dozen government lawmakers disqualified over the ruling. The Supreme Court said the anti-defection ruling was issued as a temporary solution to the constitutional dispute case filed by the state but insisted that the relevant authorities have failed to bring to effect an anti-defection law specified in the ruling.

The government thus far has refused to enforce the order insisting that it needs to validate the Supreme Court order. The Supreme Court however had published the court order on its website with the signatures of the five judge bench to 'validate' the order.

The united opposition supporters have gathered near the main Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) camp in the capital Male and are calling on the government to free the jailed politicians and comply with the court order.