Maldives chief justice gets four months jail for letter block

Jailed chief justice Abdulla Saeed was sentenced four months and 24 days in jail on Tuesday after being convicted of impeding the functioning of the state.

Chief justice Saeed is facing four separate charges which includes terrorism after being accused in the 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.

Less than a day after the arrest of the two judges, the remaining three judges rescinded its ruling to release the political leaders referring to the concerns raised by president Yameen in the letters he had sent to the chief justice hours before state of emergency was declared.

The chief justice had been charged for blocking the receipt of the letters by ordering the Government E-Letter Management system (GEMS) be disconnected.

The prosecution had presented several top court staff who had testified in secret while the court had rejected key defence witnesses.

The top judge who remains in custody under the state of emergency has also been charged with obstruction of justice over his refusal to handover his mobile phone to the police.

In addition to the chief justice, former president Maumoon Abdul Gayoom and top court judge Ali Hameed have been charged with terrorism over the alleged plot to overthrow the government.