Maldives high court frees Gayoom on bail

Maldives' first appellate court late Sunday freed jailed former president Maumoon Abdul Gayoom on bail.

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.

His lawyers in July had appealed the conviction and urged the High Court to grant bail for the former president until the first appellate court hears the appeal.

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.

The country's High Court on Monday granted bail and released Gayoom until it reaches a verdict on the appeal.

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 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.

Gayoom is also on trial for terrorism after being accused in the alleged plot to overthrow the government over the Supreme Court on February 1.

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

As many as nine politicians including Gayoom was brought to the capital from the main prison in Maafushi island to be produced in court last 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.

Elections Commission on Sunday announced the official results which confirmed opposition alliance presidential candidate Ibrahim Mohamed Solih as the seventh president of the archipelago with a staggering 58.4 percent of the votes.

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.