Court refuses house arrest for Gayoom despite health risk

Despite a detailed account of recent health scares for jailed former president Maumoon Abdul Gayoom, the Criminal Court on Monday refused to transfer the 80 year old to house arrest.

The former president now charged with terrorism over the alleged plot to overthrow the government has continued to warn authorities of health risk while his family had claimed that Gayoom's health continues to worsen.

During the second pre-trial hearing over the terrorism charges, Gayoom's lawyer had provided a detailed account of the doctors' recommendations after several consultations.

Gayoom's family had said he was suffering from a condition known as Benign Paroxysmal Positional Vertigo (BPPV) which causes dizziness which has high risk of fall and injury while the attacks has made it difficult to even go to the bathroom unassisted.

Prosecutors however had objected to the request, saying that the 80 year old was already receiving special treatment and remains under close observation. Prosecutors said Gayoom's condition was being documented every three minutes while a guard had been stationed outside the cell to keep an eye on him round the clock.

The defence countered by saying that a guard would be unable to provide the necessary medical care if Gayoom was to suffer a serious attack and requested the judge to close the hearing to the public to detail some of the more personal threats facing the former president which had been granted.

After listening to both sides, the new chief criminal judge Ahmed Hailam sided with the prosecution and refused to offer any more leeway for Gayoom's remand.

Gayoom's spouse Nasreena Ibrahim meanwhile has urged the chief prosecutor and the chief criminal judge to transfer her ailing husband to house arrest for the Holy month of Ramadan.

The former first lady had also earlier urged police to let her share a cell with her ailing husband.

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.