Judge bars defence from referring to leaked documents

Criminal Court judge Ahmed Hailam on Sunday barred the defence from referring to any documents related to the investigation into the alleged coup plot recently leaked on social media.

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.

During the terrorism trial of the chief justice on Sunday, the judge had stopped the defence from referring to a prosecution document which was included in the leak.

Judge Hailam explained that as prosecutors had made the documents secret despite the leak, they cannot be referred to or used in argument in open court.

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.