Gayoom rejects accusations of coup plot

Jailed former president Maumoon Abdul Gayoom on Wednesday rejected the accusations made by police that he had bribed the now jailed top court judges to issue the order to release jailed political leaders in a bid to overthrow the government.

"President Maumoon Abdul Gayoom rejects all accusations by police," Gayoom's lawyer and nephew Maumoon Hameed announced on Twitter.

"A proper investigation would not hide under cover of state of emergency or shy away from the clear light of rule of law or fear the accountability of due process or be terrified of an independent judiciary," the lawyer said.

Gayoom along with chief justice Abdulla Saeed and top court judge Ali Hameed were arrested shortly after incumbent president Abdulla Yameen Abdul Gayoom declared a 15 day state of emergency.

Acting police chief Abdulla Nawaz during a live press conference had read out the accusations against the trio along with the now jailed judicial administrator Hassan Saeed.

The accusations against Gayoom included bribing lawmakers and judges to influence their authority while the deposed ruling party leader has also been accused of creating discord within the security forces to back the overthrow of his half-brother's government.

The two top court judges are accused of accepting bribes to influence Supreme Court rulings, abuse of power and blocking the functioning of the entire justice system.

Nawaz claimed that police had uncovered evidence of millions of transactions made in connection to the plot.

"We have also seized huge sums of cash linked to judge Ali Hameed," Nawaz said.

Nawaz who is the third police chief appointed by president Yameen since the crisis began said police had found "a large amount of cash hidden underneath the mattress" when police searched the judicial administrator's room.

"Even as I speak, we [police] are uncovering more evidence in this case," Nawaz added.

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 self-exiled former president Mohamed Nasheed.

President Yameen had declared a 15 day state of emergency after his last ditch attempt to convince the top court to revoke the order failed as the apex court rejected the government's 'legal and judicial' concerns over the order.

Under the emergency state Yameen had originally 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 by president Yameen effectively quashed any moves by the opposition to impeach him while also stripping the Supreme Court of any authority.

Since emergency state was declared police have made a series of high profile arrests including Gayoom, two top court judges including the chief justice and the chief judicial administrator.

Less than a day after the arrest of the two judges, the remaining three judges rescinded its ruling to release the political leaders referring to the concerns raised by president Yameen in the letters he had sent to the chief justice hours before state of emergency was declared.

The move comes after president Yameen 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 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.

The top court had not rescinded the part of the order which quashed its anti-defection ruling ordering the country's electoral watchdog to re-instate the dozen government lawmakers disqualified over the ruling.