Jailed ex-defence minister's sentence suspended

Supreme Court on Thursday suspended the 10-year prison sentence for former defence minister Tholhath Ibrahim Kaleyfaanu and ordered the authorities to release him until the court reviews his final appeal.

Tholhath was convicted of terrorism and sentenced in 2015 for the arbitrary arrest of Chief Criminal Judge Abdulla Mohamed.

The judge’s three-week detention at the military training base sparked anti-government protests, leading to then-president Mohamed Nasheed’s resignation after a mutiny by police in 2012.

High Court in November last year had upheld the lower court's verdict while the Supreme Court had refused to hear Tholhath's final appeal.

However, following the opposition alliance's presidential elections victory in September, Tholhath had asked the apex court to review its decision to reject his final appeal.

Supreme Court in an interim order on Thursday, ordered the authorities to release Tholhath from custody until the court reviews his final appeal.

Since the election victory most of the jailed opposition officials has either been released or granted bail.

The High Court late September had freed jailed former president Maumoon Abdul Gayoom before overturning the bribery conviction of Jumhoory Party (JP) leader Gasim Ibrahim on Monday.

Supreme Court meanwhile had also paved the way for self-exiled former president Mohamed Nasheed's return after the five judge bench effectively ordered the relevant authorities not to arrest him.

In a similar interim order, the top court said the serving of Nasheed's prison sentence has been temporarily suspended until it reviews his jailing as requested by the country's prosecutor's office.

Nasheed had returned to the Maldives last week after spending three years in self-imposed exile.