Court overturns conviction to free Gayoom's MP son

Maldives' first appellate court on Thursday freed former president Maumoon Abdul Gayoom's lawmaker son Faris Maumoon after overturning his conviction.

The Dhiggaru lawmaker was sentenced to four months and 24 days after the criminal court in June found him guilty of impersonation for using the ruling party logo and flag during a press conference last year after he was expelled from the party.

Prosecutors has earlier admitted that Faris had been convicted and sentenced in a 'rushed' trial. The prosecution also admitted that several prosecution witnesses had provided "false" testimonies to the Criminal Court.

High Court in its ruling on Thursday found that Faris had not been granted sufficient opportunity to present his defence.

Gayoom eldest son had been remanded after being arrested under the state of emergency accused of a plot to overthrow the government following the Supreme Court order on February 1.

The lawmaker is also on trial charged with bribing fellow lawmakers to back an opposition led no-confidence motion against parliament Speaker Abdulla Maseeh.

Faris has been at the forefront of the ongoing government crackdown on the opposition after he spearheaded a move to unseat the parliament speaker last year. Former president Gayoom's eldest son had spent six months in pre-trial detention after he was charged with bribing fellow lawmakers to back the opposition led censure motion against the speaker.

The MP however was released before the Supreme Court's order on February 1 to release nine political opponents that had included the lawmaker moments before his uncle declared a state of emergency.

Less than two days after he was released, police again took him into custody accusing him of plotting to overthrow the government.

With the High Court verdict, Faris became the latest jailed opposition figure to be freed in the wake of the opposition alliance's stunning victory in last month's presidential elections.

Incumbent president Abdulla Yameen Abdul Gayoom lost the September 23 election by a margin of 16 percent to opposition alliance candidate, Ibrahim Mohamed Solih, in an outcome hailed as a win for democracy in the crisis-hit archipelago.