The government has denied suspended Criminal Court Chief Judge Ahmed Hailam's allegations that he was suspended for refusing to comply with the demands of top government officials.
Judge Hailam was presiding over former president Abdulla Yameen Abdul Gayyoom's money laundering trial, and was set to deliver a verdict on the trial on Tuesday. However, he was suspended by the Judicial Service Commission (JSC) mere hours ahead of the hearing over a controversial Victory Day greeting shared by the Judge to a social network group of the Criminal Court's Recreation Club.
The image depicted the Victory Day hero, Martyr Hussain Adam dragging President Ibrahim Mohamed Solih and Parliament Speaker former president Mohamed Nasheed and those convicted for the November 3, 1988 terror attack by a chain locked around their necks.
A statement released by Hailam following the suspension said that several attempts were made directly and indirectly by government officials of different ranks to influence him since President Yameen's trial began. Multiple attempts were made by top government officials especially on November 3 - 4, said Hailam. The hearing was scheduled for November 5.
"Top government officials directly messaged and called me, and contacted me through close acquaintances and requested to confirm if President Yameen will be jailed. When I said I cannot give such a confirmation, they warned that the police were aware of the transaction between Alhan and I. They threatened to pursue the case if I didn't cooperate, and also threatened to suspend me," said Hailam.
JSC on Wednesday had announced that the commission was probing a financial transaction of MVR 200,000 between Judge Hailam and former Feydhoo MP Ahmed Alhan. While the transaction took place on May 19 this year, JSC was informed of the transaction by the Police on Tuesday. Central bank Maldives Monetary Authority tipped off the police regarding the transaction on July 25.
Spokesperson of the President's Office, Ibrahim Hood has denied Hailam's claims and said that the government has not attempted to influence any judge, and assured that the government will not influence the judicial system in any way. He further said that the government would not take any measures that would obstruct judicial freedom.
Judge Hailam also stated that the acting Criminal Court Chief Ali Rasheed Hussein will now be aware of the attempts made to influence the case.
However, Judge Ali Rasheed has denied these claims in interviews given to several medias. The judge said the government has no influence over the judiciary.
Several lawyers view Judge Ali Rasheed approaching the press in this manner as a violation of a judge's standard of conduct.