Maldives opposition leader Gasim's son arrested after raids

Security forces late Tuesday arrested opposition Jumhoory Party (JP) leader and Villa Group owner Gasim Ibrahim's eldest son Ibrahim Siyad Gasim.

Earlier on Tuesday Maldives military and police raided opposition the business tycoon's Villa Group building in the capital Male while security forces had also searched Paradise Island Resort under the company's umbrella amid a crackdown on the opposition by president Abdulla Yameen Abdul Gayoom.

Gasim's eldest son had been managing the business empire after his father invested more time in politics.

JP secretary general Ahmed Sameer had confirmed that the security forces had entered and searched the Villa building before the raid on Paradise Island Resort. Unconfirmed reports say that a staff member had been taken into custody.

Gasim's Villa Group has faced the brunt of the government crackdown as customs along with the police had raided five of its resorts last month.

Authorities later claimed that four of the five resorts searched under the operation had an illegally acquired stock of pork and alcohol.

According to the authorities, the country's inland revenue authority had temporarily revoked the alcohol license of the four resorts over failure to pay taxes. However, the Villa Group had illegally diverted pork and alcohol from its sole license in Royal Island Resort to its sister properties.

Customs had also suspended the liquor license issued to Royal Island Resort for a period of six months citing multiple violations.

The security forces have launched a series of search and arrest operations after president Yameen declared a state of emergency late Monday.

The island nation has been embroiled in fresh political turmoil after the Supreme Court on Thursday ordered the immediate release of jailed political leaders including the now self-exiled Gasim.

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 had suspended as many as 20 constitutional rights for the duration along with the criminal procedure Act and several articles of the judicature Act. However, earlier Tuesday he had amended the declaration to all but suspend Article 48 of the constitution which specifies the rights on arrest or detention.

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.

In 24 hours since emergency state was declared police have made a series of high profile arrests including former president Maumoon Abdul Gayoom, two top court judges and the chief judicial administrator.

President Yameen meanwhile on Tuesday had accused that the chief justice had been bribed to issue the court order in a bid to overthrow the government.

"I had to declare a national emergency because there was no other way to investigate these judges. We had to first suspend their authority and immunities. Because we had to find out how thick the plot or coup is," president Yameen said in his address to the nation on live television.

In addition to Gasim, the other top political leaders named in the order included self-exiled former president Mohamed Nasheed, 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.