The criminal court was a hive of activity Wednesday as the authorities scrambled to keep “coup plotters” in custody when a 45-day state of emergency expires this week.
Remand hearings for former president Maumoon Abdul Gayoom, his son-in-law Mohamed Nadheem, Chief Justice Abdulla Saeed, judicial administrator Hassan Saeed, MP Faris Maumoon, ex-police chief Ahmed Areef and Villa company boss Ibrahim Siyad Gasim were all scheduled for midday.
Dismissing legal and constitutional arguments about their arrests under emergency powers last month, the court ordered the high-profile detainees to be held for the duration of upcoming trials.
Gayoom’s lawyers said they will appeal as his detention was “unlawful” and “arbitrary” with constitutional rights and criminal procedures suspended until the state of emergency ends Thursday night.
The orders come after terrorism and bribery charges were raised against 11 detainees accused of conspiring to overthrow the government.
The opposition contends the charges are politically motivated. Briefing the press outside the courthouse, MP Ali Hussain accused the chief public prosecutor of doing the government’s bidding by publicly alleging guilt and disclosing evidence before it was presented at court.
Remand hearings for MP Faris, ex-police commissioner Areef, and Siyad, son of exiled Jumhooree Party leader Gasim Ibrahim, concluded late Tuesday night, hours after they were brought to court. They were also detained until the conclusion of trials.
Gayoom’s son-in-law Nadheem was reportedly brought to Malé around 5:30 pm but the remand hearing concluded around 1:20 am. MP Sinan was taken back to Dhoonidhoo around midnight after his hearing was cancelled.
Top opposition lawyers were meanwhile reprimanded by the court over critical statements in the media.
Former president Gayoom’s lawyer Mohamed Faisal was summoned after he told reporters that court officials refused to let him meet his client on Tuesday.
The 80-year-old was kept waiting for seven hours and told that the hearing was cancelled. He was brought back to the capital Wednesday afternoon.
In a statement Tuesday, the court threatened action against those who “spread lies about the court and incite hatred towards its judges.”
Returned to Malé this morning after a journey of just over 24 hrs to find Criminal Ct has gone into efficiency overdrive with remand hearings for Pres. @maumoonagayoom @afarismaumoon MP @MNadhym & others set for 12 noon today.
This schedule is impossible for the court to meet.
— Maumoon Hameed (@maanhameed) March 21, 2018
President Yameen & #Maldives security forces have no legal justification or rationale to bring SoE detainees, including Chief Justice Abdulla Saeed to the Criminal Court today. This is a mockery of justice. @MNDF_Official and @PoliceMv must refuse to follow unlawful orders.
— Mohamed Nasheed (@MohamedNasheed) March 21, 2018
Scene at #Maldives Criminal Court yesterday was nothing short of an orchestrated drama. Police occupying courtrooms, attorneys suspended at whim, everyone including YAG’s brother ex-
Prez @maumoonagayoom charged with terrorism. Courts fail to abide by this constitutional duty: pic.twitter.com/jExd0ZQAkG
— Mohamed Jameel Ahmed (@MJameelAhmed) March 21, 2018
Just finished family meeting with my father @maumoonagayoom. Hope he is given enough time to have lunch and get ready before he is taken to court considering he had to wait 7 hrs at court yesterday. @maanhameed @PoliceMv @hrcmv @UNHumanRights @amnesty pic.twitter.com/X6ApdiE50A
— Yumna Maumoon (@yumna_maumoon) March 21, 2018
— Dunya Maumoon (@dunyamaumoon) March 21, 2018
At criminal court for @MNadhym ‘s remand hearing since 15:30 today. Nadheem has not been provided any food because “Fuluhun vidhaalhuvee dhoonidhoo in genanee rangalhah kaan dheegen kamah” This is beyond absurd and inhuman from all standards.
— Mahfooz Saeed (@MahfuzSayd) March 21, 2018
The decision was partly based on the SUSPENDED Criminal Procedure Code & Article 48(d) of the Constitution.Fact of the matter is that State of Emergency is still in effect & it is the Supreme Court which can only decided anything in relation to the SoE. #MaldivesCrisis https://t.co/fXGO8BgxTf
— Riffath (@ibriffath) March 21, 2018
Yameen’s witch- hunt continues.
— Eva Abdulla 🎈❓ (@evattey) March 22, 2018
With Yameen’s judiciary, end of trial = indefinite.
— Eva Abdulla 🎈❓ (@evattey) March 22, 2018