Prison medical board signs off on Gayoom's transfer to house arrest

Maldives Correctional Service's medical board has sanctioned the transfer of jailed former president Maumoon Abdul Gayoom's to house arrest, his party revealed Wednesday.

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 in June.

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 which had thus far been ignored by the authorities.

However, a senior official of Gayoom's party Maumoon Reform Movement (MRM) said the medical board on Monday had advised the correctional service to transfer the former president to house arrest due to ill-health.

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.

The government however, had refused to follow the advise of the medical board, the official alleged.

Correctional service spokesperson denied any knowledge of any decision by the medical board, when asked by AVAS.

The reported decision came in the wake of the opposition alliance victory in Sunday's presidential elections.

As many as nine politicians including former president Maumoon Abdul Gayoom was brought to the capital from the main prison in Maafushi island to be produced in court late Monday.

However, the court freed South Machchangoalhi MP Abdulla Sinan, Dhangethi lawmaker Ilham Ahmed Gayoom's son-in-law Ahmed Nadeem and former police chief Ahmed Areef who had been in remand until the end of their trials. The four had been charged with terrorism for conspiring to overthrow the government following the landmark Supreme Court ruling in February.

The court refused to rule on the custodial detention of Gayoom, his lawmaker son, Faris Maumoon, former chief justice Abdulla Saeed and top court judge Ali Hameed pointing out that they had all been jailed on criminal convictions.

The Criminal Court has already released Jumhoory Party deputy leader Abdulla Riyaz earlier Monday before releasing opposition lawmaker Ahmed Mahloof a day after.

What happened on Sunday?

Just a little over a quarter million people in the tropical island nation voted on Sunday in an election amid mounting international concerns for a lack of transparency and suppression of government critics.

The election widely regarded more as a referendum than an election saw incumbent Yameen seeking re-election go against the veteran lawmaker Ibrahim Mohamed Solih.

Throughout Sunday, Solih maintained a healthy lead but pulled well clear as Yameen lost key electorates despite significant pledges of development in the next five years.

Solih had been backed by Yameen's main political rivals including the now jailed former presidents Maumoon Abdul Gayoom, Nasheed along with Jumhoory Party leader and business tycoon Gasim Ibrahim.

Preliminary results from Sunday's election shows an overwhelming victory for the opposition alliance with Solih securing 58 percent of the votes.

On Monday, president Yameen went on air to concede defeat and has promised a smooth transition of power to his successor.