The High Court released this morning a judge arrested on a charge of drug abuse from the southern island of Thinadhoo in Gaaf Dhaal atoll.
The police confirmed the arrest of a 38-year-old man on Saturday. The suspect was “in a state of intoxication” and a rubber packet containing a substance thought to be drugs was found on the ground, the police said in a statement.
Local media identified the suspect as Ali Rasheed, the magistrate of the Thinadhoo court.
However, the appellate court reportedly ordered his release today citing due process violations.
According to article 12 of the Judges Act, a sitting judge can only be arrested if a police officer observes the judge committing an offence. In other circumstances, the Prosecutor General’s office must seek an arrest warrant from the High Court.
The police said Rasheed was taken into custody in an operation conducted by the Thinadhoo police station on an intelligence tip-off. The statement did not specify whether the magistrate was arrested from a public place or his residence.
Home Minister Umar Naseer had meanwhile praised the police yesterday following the magistrate’s arrest.
I salute the Police. No one is above the law.https://t.co/mPz8ahsbg7
— Umar Naseer (@UmarNaseerPPM) May 28, 2016
Naseer told local newspaper CNM that the home ministry will appeal the judge’s release from remand.
In February, Ahmed Nihan, senior judge at the Maamigili magistrate court, was arrested on a charge of forging a warrant for the arrest of President Abdulla Yameen over the Maldives’ biggest corruption scandal.
Along with former Prosecutor General Muhthaz Muhsin – himself a former criminal court judge – the 30-year-old magistrate is presently on trial on charges of terrorism, abuse of authority, official misconduct, and forgery.
Nihan’s arrest drew condemnation from the International Commission of Jurists, which called it “another blow to the independence of the judiciary and the rule of law.”