Former president Maumoon Abdul Gayoom and Chief Justice Abdulla Saeed have denied the “politically motivated” charges in their obstruction of justice trial.
Tuesday’s hearing was the first time that Saeed has spoken at length since he was arrested and put on trial. The constitution was crushed and his detention was an inhumane atrocity, he said.
His trial undermined the power of the justice system and his arrest was arbitrary and an act of enforced disappearance, Saeed told the court after denying the charges.
“This is not the chief justice that has been put on trial. This is a trial against an order of the Supreme Court of the Maldives,” he was quoted as saying by local media.
The February 1 order was issued according to due process, he said, adding that the highest court must not be challenged and had never been done so before.
Saeed also expressed concern about the rapid speed of the trials and the conditions he was having to endure because of the detention.
“There is no reason to hold the trials at this pace. Anyone who commits a crime must be punished. And anyone who is not proven to have committed a crime must be found innocent”.
“We might be buried, but these trials will not be buried,” he said, calling the trial a mockery of justice.
Judge Adam Arif insisted that the trial was being carried out in compliance with the Supreme Court decisions on the trial process.
He referred to the court’s upholding of the 13-year prison term for former president Mohamed Nasheed and said the trials were not going at an uncommon pace.
Gayoom also denied the charges in court on Tuesday, maintaining his innocence by saying he had never committed a crime at any point in his life.
Defence attorney Maumoon Hameed urged Judge Arif to recuse himself from the trial due to a conflict of interest, as two orders from the judge are being presented as evidence against Gayoom in a separate trial.
But the judge decided to continue presiding over the case.
Lawyers for both Saeed and Gayoom raised questions about the charges. A secret witness, two police officers and the police statement have been submitted as evidence against the pair.
Saeed and Gayoom along with Justice Ali Hameed, who is also on trial on the same charges, were brought to court at 1pm for the trial that ended around 8pm.
Lawyers asked for parts of the hearing to be delayed because it was difficult for the 80-year-old former president to remain seated for long periods.
They also raised concerns about not getting sufficient time to meet clients because trials were being scheduled daily.
Lawyer Mahfooz Saeed claimed that Hameed was facing increasing medical problems because of the frequent travel.
He said the 53-year-old judge has to connect oxygen before he sleeps and was treated on Tuesday morning before being brought to court.
Judge Arif adjourned the hearing to Wednesday afternoon, when Hameed will be asked to respond to charges.
They are also being charged with terrorism over an alleged attempt to overthrow the government of Gayoom’s half-brother, President Abdulla Yameen.
Hameed and Saeed also face bribery charges.