Gayoom denies 'false' terrorism charges

Jailed former president Maumoon Abdul Gayoom on Monday insisted that he had not committed any crimes in his life and vehemently denied what he described as completely "false" charges against him 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.

During the second pre-trial hearing on Sunday, the prosecution read out the charges which said Gayoom had bribed the top court judges to issue the order on February 1 designed to overthrow the government which he had been planning since 2013.

The 80 year old had bribed two lawmakers and the former police chief - all now arrested and charged over the coup plot - to aid the government overthrow, the charges said.

The defence had initially questioned the charges arguing the prosecution's failure to name the judges, Gayoom had allegedly bribed. The prosecution countered by saying that the identities of the judges who would be presented as witnesses would be revealed when the trial begins.

After much haggling over the charges, Gayoom stood up and vehemently denied the charges which he described as completely false.

The prosecution has named 33 witnesses against Gayoom, while the court gave the defence until June 3 to come up with its own witnesses.

In addition to Gayoom chief justice Abdulla Saeed and top court judge Ali Hameed have also been formally charged with terrorism over the alleged plot to overthrow the government.

In addition to the terrorism charge, the trio who had been arrested under the state of emergency have also been charged with obstruction of justice over their refusal to handover their mobile phones to the police.

The two top court judges along with now jailed chief judicial administrator Hassan Saeed are also facing bribery charges. Chief justice Saeed is facing a fourth charge of impeding the functioning of the state for allegedly blocking the receipt of three letters sent by president Yameen shortly after the top court ruling on February 1.

Prosecutors have also formally charged four opposition lawmakers over the alleged coup plot.

Gayoom's lawmaker son Faris Maumoon, Jumhoory Party (JP) deputy leader Abdulla Riyaz, Dhangethi lawmaker Ilham Ahmed and South-Machchangoalhi lawmaker Abdulla Sinan have all been charged with terrorism for conspiring to overthrow the government. All four lawmakers have also been remanded until the trial ends.

In addition, former police chief Ahmed Areef has also been charged and remanded until sentencing.

PG office said Areef had handpicked certain police officers in violation of normal procedure to enforce the Supreme Court order and also attempted to disrupt the peace of the country.