Gayoom won't sell his soul for house arrest offer, insists lawyer

Jailed former president Maumoon Abdul Gayoom "won't sell his soul" to be an accomplice to tyranny and injustice, his lawyer said in response to incumbent president Abdul Yameen Abdul Gayoom's claims that Gayoom had rejected repeated "offers" to be transferred to house arrest.

The 80 year old Gayoom along with two top court judges were convicted of obstruction of justice and sentenced to one year seven months and six days in prison last month.

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 Yameen 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.

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

Gayoom's family had repeatedly called on the authorities to transfer him to house arrest over concerns of his ill-health.

President Yameen speaking during a ceremony in Haa Dhaal Atoll Hanimadhoo island, however said his half brother had been given "several opportunities" to be transferred to house arrest.

"Even on the very first day if he [Gayoom] had handed over his mobile phone he wouldn't be in prison today," the president had said.

In response to the president's claims, Gayoom's lawyer Maumoon Hameed on Twitter said if his client had surrendered his integrity and became willing accomplices to tyranny and injustice, he would not only be home but "would be accorded the highest honour."

"They remain defiant: chain their bodies, but their souls are not for sale," Hameed said referring to Gayoom, his lawmaker son Faris Maumoon and son-in-law Ahmed Nadheem who have all been jailed.