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Prosecutors present evidence from 'black backpack' against Gasim's son

Prosecutors on Monday presented evidence found from a 'black backpack' against opposition Jumhoory Party (JP) leader Gasim Ibrahim's son.

Ibrahim Siyad Gasim who is Villa Shipping & Trading Company Pvt Ltd's managing director has been implicated in the alleged plot to overthrow the government and continues to be in remand until the end of the trial where he is facing bribery charges.

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 Nasheed.

President Yameen on February 5 had declared 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 approached it final hours, prosecutors got the country's criminal court 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 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.

During the first hearing of the trial, prosecutors presented a letter signed by the defendant found inside a black backpack recovered during a search of the now jailed chief judicial administrator's residence.

According to the prosecution the letter shows that funds amounting to USD2.4 million given by Villa Shipping & Trading Company Pvt Ltd to the main suspects of the plot 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, prosecution said.

Prosecution also said police had verified the signatory of the document to be Siyad Gasim - son of Jumhoory Party (JP) leader and Villa Group owner Gasim Ibrahim.

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.

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.

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