Chief Judge of Criminal Court Ahmed Hailam has been suspended by the Judicial Service Commission.
Judge Hailam was suspended at the JSC meeting held Tuesday morning, following disciplinary proceedings against him after a Victory Day greeting sent by the judge which depicted the president in chains was leaked.
The illustrated cartoon was sent to the Viber group of the Criminal Court's recreational club. The picture showed President Ibahim Mohamed Solih and Parliament Speaker Mohamed Nasheed being dragged in chains along with the perpetrators behind the 1988 coup attack during which 19 Maldivians were killed. The picture showed the chain being pulled by fallen hero, Shaheed (martyr) Hussain Adam who died during the attack. The words "that dignity and respect have been snatched today" was written in Dhivehi.
Judge Hailam on Monday issued a statement apologizing for his actions, and said he was not aware that the president and the speaker were illustrated in the cartoon. He forwarded the cartoon due to Abdulla Luthufee being pictured, and did not pay attention to who else was depicted in the drawing, said Hailam.
JSC said although the commission summoned Judge Hailam for questioning over the issue, he failed to present himself at the commission on Tuesday morning. Therefore, the commission considered the statement released by Hailam on Monday as his explanation for his actions, and made the decision to suspend him due to the nature of the case. The maximum period of his suspension is sixty days, said JSC.
The controversial issue arose while the Criminal Court was preparing to deliver a verdict on former president Yameen Abdul Gayyoom's money laundering trial on Tuesday. While Judge Hailam was presiding over the case, many lawmakers have expressed that based on his actions, it was unlikely that Judge Hailam would deliver a fair verdict. The Criminal Court has confirmed that the hearing scheduled for Tuesday has been cancelled in light of JSC's decision to suspend Hailam.