Gayoom, top court judges bemoan successive hearings

Jailed former president Maumoon Abdul Gayoom and two top court judges on trial for obstruction of justice have expressed concern over the scheduling of serial hearings.

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.

The 80 year old Gayoom, along with Chief Justice Abdulla Saeed and top court judge Ali Hameed who had been arrested under the state of emergency have been charged with obstruction of justice over their refusal to handover their mobile phone to the police.

The pre-trial hearing had been rushed through last week, while two hearings of the trial had been held in consecutive days which had both gone long into the night.

During the hearing on Wednesday evening, Gayoom said he had mustered every ounce of strength left in his weary body to attend court because he was not left with a choice.

"I was warned that some of the privileges I'm getting now would be revoked if I refused to come. I only make it there because of those privileges. So in fear of getting those privileges revoked I had no choice but to come," Gayoom told the court.

Gayoom who has seen his health worsen in recent weeks, also said he was unable to make the trip across the sea to the court every night, especially during the present bad weather.

The 80 year old said it was extremely difficult for him to fast while attending court on a nightly basis and urged the judge for some leeway at least for the ongoing month of Ramadan.

Chief Justice also shared similar concerns, adding that the long hours in court made it impossible to have proper meals in between fasts.

During an earlier hearing, Judge Hameed's lawyer had urged the court for some leeway saying that his client required nightly oxygen treatment as he suffers breathing difficulties.

However, the judge presiding over the case had ignored the pleas and has scheduled another hearing for later Thursday.

The trio's respective legal team meanwhile have quit from the trial accusing the court of completely ignoring the rights of the defendant to rush through the trial.