Ex-AG questions chief prosecutor's 'independence'

Former Attorney General (AG) Dhiyana Saeed on Friday questioned chief prosecutor Aishath Bisham's independence after the latter was pictured outside the president's office in the company of the home minister.

"Why is the Prosecutor General at PO? And with the Home Minister?" the former AG asked on Twitter.

"This undermines confidence in the Prosecutor General’s independence, especially at a time when so many opposition figures are being prosecuted on baseless, politically motivated charges."

Dhiyana's comments come in the wake of a rushed move by the Prsecutor General (PG) office to remand the suspects until the end of their respective trials which otherwise would have forced authorities to release them after the emergency state ended.

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.

Hours before the 45 day state of emergency was set to expire, legal affairs minister Azima Shakoor flanked by the Attorney General (AG) Mohamed Anil announced the president's decision to lift the emergency state with effect from 12pm Thursday.

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.

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.

Bisham was pictured at the president's office amid rumours of a possible move to remove her from her post, though the Maldives ruling party refuted reports of a no-confidence motion against the PG.

The PG reportedly had a major falling out with the government and almost resigned after the police rejected her opinion over the controversial extension of the state of emergency in the archipelago.

According to reliable sources inside the prosecutor general's (PG) office, Bisham had believed that the state of emergency extension was unconstitutional and had sent a letter asking the police to produce all detainees arrested during the state of emergency in court for a remand hearing.

However, when the police refused, Bisham had even scheduled a staff meeting where she wanted to announce her resignation.

Sources said president's office's legal affairs minister Azima Shakoor had met with the chief prosecutor before the staff meeting was cancelled.

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.