Crisis-hit Maldives' state of emergency is set to end on Thursday. As expected, prosecutors were seen scrambling to remand the high-profile suspects accused of what the government describes as a 'judicial coup' to overthrow the government.
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, president Yameen had got the parliament contentiously extend it by another 30 days.
As the 45 day state of emergency approaches it final hours, prosecutors have got the country's criminal court to remand the suspects - one after another until the end of their respective trials which otherwise would have forced authorities to release them after the emergency state ends.
The most high-profile figures remanded until the end of the trial included former president Maumoon Abdul Gayoom, chief justice Abdulla Saeed and top court judge Ali Hameed - all now formally charged with terrorism over the alleged plot to overthrow the government.
In addition to the terrorism charge, according to a statement released by the Prosecutor General's (PG) office, the trio who remain in custody under the state of emergency have also been charged with obstruction of justice over their refusal to handover their mobile phones to the police.
The two top court judges along with now jailed chief judicial administrator Hassan Saeed are also facing bribery charges. Chief justice Saeed is facing a fourth charge of impeding the functioning of the state for allegedly blocking the receipt of three letters sent by president Yameen shortly after the top court ruling on February 1.
The chief judicial administrator is facing the same charge for refusing to come in for police questioning.
PG office further said police had discovered MVR 350,000 (Maldivian Rufiyaa Three Hundred and Thirty Thousand) and USD 3,300 (United States Dollars Three Thousand and Three Hundred) hidden underneath the mattress of the chief judicial administrator.
"The statement said the police uncovered inside bag found in his room among other documents a letter on Villa Shipping & Trading Company Pvt Ltds letterhead signed by the said Company's Managing Director, Ibrahim Siyad Gasim.
"The letter shows that funds amounting to USD2.4 million given by Villa Shipping & Trading Company Pvt Ltd to the main suspects of this case and relatives of those suspect towards purchasing properties from a foreign country."
The document proves that the beneficiaries of the payment were judge Hameed's son, Chief justice Saeed and the ex-wife of the chief judicial administrator, the statement said.
The statement also said the police had verified the signatory of the document to be Siyad Gasim - son of Jumhoory Party (JP) leader and Villa Group owner Gasim Ibrahim while his fingerprints were also found on the document.
Siyad Gasim has been remanded until the end of the trial charged with offering a bribe.
Prosecutors have also formally charged four opposition lawmakers over the alleged coup plot.
Gayoom's lawmaker son Faris Maumoon, Jumhoory Party (JP) deputy leader Abdulla Riyaz, Dhangethi lawmaker Ilham Ahmed and South-Machchangoalhi lawmaker Abdulla Sinan have all been charged with terrorism for conspiring to overthrow the government. Three out of the four lawmakers have all been remanded until the trial ends thus far.
According to the PG office statement, the four who also remain in custody under the state of emergency had influenced sitting judges and bribed fellow members of parliament to back their plan to overthrow the government.
In addition, former police chief Ahmed Areef has also been charged and remanded until sentencing.
PG office said Areef had handpicked certain police officers in violation of normal procedure to enforce the Supreme Court order and also attempted to disrupt the peace of the country.
Suspects charged over 'coup' plot
- Former president Maumoon Abdul Gayoom
- Chief justice Abdulla Saeed
- Supreme Court judge Ali Hameed
- Gayoom's son and Dhiggaru lawmaker Faris Maumoon
- Dhangethi lawmaker Ilham Ahmed
- South-Machchangoalhi lawmaker Abdulla Sinan
- Jumhoory Party (JP) deputy leader Abdulla Riyaz
- Former police chief Ahmed Areef
- Gayoom's son in law Mohamed Nadeem
- Chief judicial administrator Hassan Saeed
- Ibrahim Siyad Gasim
The PG office further said the Supreme Court order on February 1 was a premeditated plot to overthrow the government.
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.
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.