Opposition vows to free jailed top court judges

An opposition government would immediately free the two jailed top court judges, opposition alliance presidential candidate Ibrahim Mohamed Solih vowed Thursday on the eve of the crunch elections.

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Less than a day after the arrest of the two judges, the remaining three judges rescinded its ruling to release the political leaders referring to the concerns raised by president Yameen in the letters he had sent to the chief justice hours before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

Chief justice Abdulla Saeed along with top court judge Ali Hameed facing four separate charges which includes terrorism after being accused in the plot to overthrow the government were convicted of abuse of power to influence lower court judges and sentenced to one year, six months and one day in prison in June.

Speaking during a campaign rally in the southernmost atoll Addu on Thursday, Solih said his election rival and incumbent president Abdulla Yameen Abdul Gayoom had invaded the powers of the state and influenced the judiciary into jailing all of his political rivals.

"When he could no longer do that, he had the security forces storm the Supreme Court and arrest its judges," the veteran lawmaker said.

"Judge Abdulla Saeed and Ali Hameed did not commit a crime to deserve their jailing. An opposition government would free them."