Maldives pres accuses chief justice of coup plot

Embattled president Abdulla Yameen Abdul Gayoom on Tuesday leveled serious allegations against the Supreme Court, accusing the now jailed chief justice of plot to overthrow the government.

The island nation has 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.

President Yameen late Monday had declared a state of emergency after his last ditch attempt to convince the top court to revoke the order failed after the apex court rejected the government's 'legal and judicial' concerns over the order.

President Yameen has declared emergency state for 15 days and suspended as many as 20 constitutional rights for the duration along with the criminal procedure Act and several articles of the judicature Act.

The constitutional rights suspended president Yameen has effectively quashed any moves by the opposition to impeach him while also stripping the Supreme Court of any authority.

A few hours after emergency state was declared police had taken chief justice Abdulla Saeed and Supreme Court Judge Abdulla Hameed into custody.

In his address to the nation on Tuesday afternoon, president Yameen shed light on the reasons behind his decision to declare emergency state saying that the "shocking" Supreme Court order had threatened to "cripple" the functioning of the state.

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 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.

"I had to ask myself why did the Supreme Court name just these nine people. I asked the same question of my Attorney General and Prosecutor General," president Yameen explained in his address live on state television.

He said the Supreme Court had labelled the nine as political prisoners to set them apart from other convicts in jail for similar offences. The president reiterated that repeated attempts to contact the chief justice to share concerns with the order had failed.

But according to the president, the most surprising fact about the court order was to strip the judicial watchdog of the authority to summon the top court bench or question the court order.

"We had no way to hold the Supreme Court accountable. We couldn't risk holding a JSC [judicial watchdog] sit-down as its members could then be held in contempt for questioning or challenging the court order," president Yameen said.

President Yameen said after rejecting the PG's concerns, the top court had even refused to accept the letters he had sent to the chief justice highlighting the issues his PG and AG had over the court order.

'Undue influence in top court'

President Yameen revealed that police had uncovered evidence that the Chief justice, Ali Hameed and the recently arrest judicial administrator Hassan Saeed had all purchased apartments which had raised several red flags.

However, the president noted that the Supreme Court had revoked the warrant to arrest the judicial administrator which led to increased suspicions that the two top court judges were involved in something more "sinister".

"When they blocked the authorities from even investigating the administrator, we knew that there was no way the judges could be investigated given their immunities," he explained.

Serious allegations against top judge

President Yameen said the chief justice had initiated deliberations with the top court bench to remove the Attorney General from office. The top judge had also wanted to reinstate former police chief Ahmed Areef and his successor Ahmed Saudhee after both were sacked shortly after the court order, president revealed.

According to the president, chief justice had also pushed the bench to hear a case for his impeachment which had failed after the rest of the judges refused.

"The constitution clearly states how a president can be impeached. The Supreme court has no authority to do so. It also has no jurisdiction to reinstate the police chief. But when the chief justice were pushing for these things beyond his mandate or jurisdiction, we had to take it seriously. We had to find out why," president Yameen explained.

President said he had no option other than to declare a national emergency as the "entire judiciary" had been compromised.

"We needed to find out if there was any link between the sudden change in the mentality of the chief justice and his new found riches. No one is above the law. Not even judges. I had no other choice. No other way to save the nation," he alleged.

President also revealed that police have now made "major headway" into the investigation which he said would be revealed to the public soon.

"We will find out why this happened. How thick this plot is. How deep the roots go. I ask the people to support me. Give me the chance to get to the bottom of this," president urged.