Maldives top court revokes warrant to arrest judicial administrator

Maldives Supreme Court on Sunday revoked a warrant to arrest the Department of Judicial Administration (DJA) chief Hassan Saeed over bribery allegations.

Police have launched a bribery probe into the chief judicial administrator and top court judge Ali Hameed amid accusations that the opposition had bribed some of the judges on the Supreme Court bench to influence the ruling ordering the release of several jailed political leaders.

The island nation has been plunged into fresh political turmoil after the Supreme Court on Thursday ordered the immediate release of jailed political leaders including self-exiled former president Mohamed Nasheed.

More than two days after the Supreme court ordered the immediate release of as many as nine political prisoners, government has thus far refused to comply.

Police had launched a manhunt for the DJA head and raided his house in the capital Male.

Supreme Court however, in a statement said the arrest warrant had been issued in violation of regulations and ordered the criminal court to share any action taken by the police before 7pm.

The police crackdown comes a few hours after a close aide of deposed ruling party leader Maumoon Abdul Gayoom accused the former president of cutting a deal with the Supreme Court bench, and implied the top-court was in cahoots with opposition over recently issued order. The activist made the accusations in an interview with pro-government Channel 13.

Shortly after the allegations, top officials of the ruling Progressive Party of Maldives (PPM) during a press conference early Sunday claiming that it had asked the police to probe the allegations.

Police claim to have received evidence in the form of a financial transaction made by Saeed to purchase a flat from a real-estate project. Police also accuse two family members of Supreme Court judge Ali Hameed having links to the transaction as well.

Government meanwhile revealed an imminent move by the country's top court to have president Abdulla Yameen Abdul Gayoom arrested with the police and army insisting that such an order will not be obeyed.

Attorney General (AG) Mohamed Anil flanked by the army and police chief on Sunday morning said the government has received information that a Supreme Court order to arrest president Yameen was imminent.

However, AG labelled the move as "unconstitutional" and the police and the army would reject any order by the Supreme Court to have the president arrested.

Chief of defence force Major General Ahmed Shiyam said the army would only act in accordance with the laws and constitution, adding that it would follow the legal advice of the attorney general.

"The army would not stand by watch while the Maldives goes into a crisis. The army would not obey an unconstitutional order," Shiyam insisted.

Newly appointed police chief Abdulla Nawaz echoed the army chief's statement.

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.