Leaked testimonies show jailed top court judges influenced rulings

The now jailed two Supreme Court judges had dictated several high-profile lower court rulings, leaked secret testimonies from two lower court judges have revealed.

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 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.

Yameen's half-brother and former president Maumoon Abdul Gayoom, chief justice Abdulla Saeed, top court judge Ali Hameed and four former government lawmakers have been charged with terrorism for their involvement in the coup plot through the February 1 court order.

The testimonies leaked on social media included several from lower court judges saying how the chief justice and judge Hameed had influenced their rulings. The leaked documents also included testimonies from top police officials and the intelligence report following the February 1 court order.

Acting chief criminal judge Adam Arif in his testimony to the police had said the now jailed chief judicial administrator had called him and put him on speaker saying that the two top court judges wanted to speak to him following the order on February 1.

While on speaker, chief justice Saeed had said to be "mindful when sentencing political figures," the testimony read. Then judge Hameed had ordered him to release three out of the four lawmakers now charged in the coup plot which included Gayoom's lawmaker son Faris Maumoon.

The chief justice had also ordered to annul the arrest warrant issued against the chief judicial administrator Hassan Saeed on February 4, according to judge Arif's statement.

Judge Mohamed Haleem Ali in his statement said the two top court judges had influenced several civil lawsuits including the controversial ownership dispute of Maldives' oldest newspaper 'Haveeru' which was subsequently shut-down.

In addition, the chief justice had conveyed a message from the president which ultimately led judge Haleem to remove Gayoom as the ruling party head and handover the reins to president Yameen.

Some other judges also admitted to having changed their rulings "to one president Yameen wanted" on orders of one of the two top court judges.

Prosecutors had planned to present the secret testimonies against the suspects charged in the plot. It remains unclear whether the leak had come from the police, the prosecutor's office or the criminal court.

Police on Wednesday during an impromptu press conference confirmed that the leaked testimonies were indeed authentic. Police spokesperson Ahmed Shifan condemned the leak and assured that the perpetrators would be brought to justice.