Official arrested on suspicion of plotting to kill judge

Official arrested on suspicion of plotting to kill judge
April 06 14:13 2017

A senior policy executive at the education ministry was arrested Tuesday night on suspicion of plotting to assassinate High Court Judge Shujau Usman.

The criminal court on Wednesday remanded Ibrahim Haneef to police custody for 10 days.

According to local media, he was arrested on suspicion of planning to hire a gang to assault and kill the high court judge.

A police spokeswoman confirmed to the Maldives Independent that an investigation is underway into an alleged plan to assassinate a judge.

“We are investigating a case in which plans were allegedly made to physically harm and endanger the life of a judge,” the spokeswoman said.

She declined to disclose any details related to the suspect under custody.

Unnamed sources told newspaper Mihaaru that the alleged assassination attempt was foiled after audio recordings were leaked.

Online paper VFP meanwhile reported that Haneef’s phone was previously confiscated when he was summoned to the police headquarters for questioning prior to his arrest.

According to VFP, Haneef is a close associate of MP Saud Hussain of the ruling Progressive Party of Maldives.

MP Saud, who represents the Villingili constituency in Gaaf Alif atoll, recently pledged support to former President Maumoon Abdul Gayoom’s “reform efforts” in alliance with opposition parties, joining the former president’s faction of the divided ruling party.  

Judge Usman was meanwhile transferred to the high court’s southern branch in Addu City in June 2016.

Local media reported in February that he was moved back to the main branch in the capital over threats to his life in the southernmost atoll.

Following reports suggesting that the judge was taken into custody and brought to Malé, the police said at the time that he was provided security upon request.

Usman previously served as a judge at the criminal court and presided over the trials of high-profile politicians including former President Mohamed Nasheed and former Defence Minister Mohamed Nazim in early 2015.

He was appointed to the high Court in mid-2015 and later transferred to the Addu City branch following the resignation of Judge Dr Azmiralda Zahir.

Azmiralda was among three judges chosen by the Supreme Court in June 2015 for the newly-established branch in the southernmost atoll.

The nine-member High Court bench was divided by amendments brought to the Judicature Act in December 2015. Two regional branches were set up to hear appeals of magistrate court verdicts while only the main branch in the capital was to decide on constitutional challenges to laws and regulations.