Maldives police to seek charges in 'coup' plot

Maldives police on Monday shed more light into the ongoing investigation over the alleged plot to overthrow the government saying that it would seek formal charges against the suspects this week.

The island nation has been embroiled in fresh political turmoil after the Supreme Court on February 1 ordered the immediate release of jailed political leaders including self-exiled former president Mohamed Nasheed.

President Abdulla Yameen Abdul Gayoom on February 5 had declared a 15 day state of emergency after his last ditch attempt to convince the top court to revoke the order failed, purged the Supreme Court by arresting two judges and the remaining political leaders and ultimately had the order revoked.

As the state of emergency expired on Tuesday, president Yameen had got the parliament contentiously extend it by another 30 days.

President Yameen has exploited the rights suspended under emergency state to crackdown hard on the opposition as police have made a series of high profile arrests including former president Maumoon Abdul Gayoom, three lawmakers, chief justice Abdulla Saeed, top court judge Ali Hameed and the chief judicial administrator.

Police spokesperson Ahmed Shifan on state television read out a statement which said the police have now made "significant progress" into the investigation and had uncovered "conclusive evidence" that Gayoom along with his lawmaker son Faris Maumoon and son in law Ahmed Nadheem who are also in custody had bribed the two top court judges to issue the order on February 1 in a bid to overthrow the government.

The plot came after the trio in July had bribed lawmakers to back a similar attempt to overthrow the government, Shifan said.

Shifan also said police have now uncovered evidence that proved that chief justice Saeed and judge Hameed had attempted to influence the judiciary following the top court order on February 1.

"They had also tried to influence ongoing police investigations by getting the police to return evidence seized in open cases," Shifan alleged.

Shifan claimed that police have received more evidence that an unnamed local company had paid millions of dollars to Judge Hameed and the chief judicial administrator Hassan Saeed to purchase properties from abroad.

The spokesperson said police teams have been deployed abroad to gather conclusive evidence related to the offshore dealings of the suspects.

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 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.

In addition to Nasheed, the other top political leaders named in the now rescinded 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.

Former prosecutor general Muhthaz Muhsin, magistrate Ahmed Nihan and Adheeb's uncle Hamid Ismail make up the rest of the list.