Maldives needs impartial courts for fair trials, insists UK Amb

British Ambassador to Maldives James Dauris on Monday insisted on the need for independent and impartial courts amid the ongoing trials of high-profile figures charged with terrorism over the alleged plot 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 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 Gayoom, chief justice Abdulla Saeed, top court judge Ali Hameed and four former government lawmakers which included Gayoom's son Faris Maumoon have been charged with terrorism for their involvement in the coup plot through the February 1 court order.

The pre-trial hearings of the six had been held separately, but the judge had said the six would stand trial together as the prosecution evidence and witnesses against them were the same.

In addition to the six, two former police commissioners and Gayoom's son in law have also been charged with terrorism. But their trials have been held separately.

After ending his visit to the Maldives where he had met senior officials from both the government and the opposition, Dauris in a Tweet said he was leaving "having heard so many people's concerns that court rules and procedures are being ignored in the on-going trials of senior judges and political leaders."

"Citizens in every country need the courts to act as independent and impartial checks on power."

The Ambassador had also shared his thoughts on the upcoming presidential elections now slated for September in a Tweet shortly after his meeting with the Maldives foreign secretary Ahmed Sareer.

"Agreed that whether an election is democratic or not is determined not just on election day," Dauris said in a separate Tweet.

"Freedom to choose candidates and hold meetings, equal access to funding, resources and TV time etc in preceding months matter too."