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High Court upholds prison term for top judge

Chief Justice Abdulla Saeed was arrested hours after a state of emergency was declared.



The High Court Thursday upheld a prison term for the country’s highest-ranking judge who was convicted of obstruction of state function.

Chief Justice Abdulla Saeed was sentenced last month for ordering the suspension of the government’s e-letter management system to block the delivery of three letters.

He was arrested hours after President Abdulla Yameen invoked emergency powers on February 5, citing a plot to remove him from office and a “constitutional crisis” triggered by the Supreme Court’s shock ruling to release prisoners and reinstate lawmakers stripped of their seats.

The appellate court said that evidence and testimony proved Saeed obstructed state functions by ordering GEMS to stop on February 4 and 5.

It held two hearings before backing the Criminal Court judgement.

His conviction will trigger automatic removal from the bench if the verdict is upheld by the appeal courts. He can appeal the decision to the reduced Supreme Court bench in the next 30 days.

Controversial legal changes were pushed through in March to remove convicted judges without the parliamentary vote called for by the constitution, which requires a two-thirds majority to approve a finding of gross incompetence or misconduct by the judicial watchdog.

Saeed, who denied the “fabricated” obstruction charge, is also standing trial on other charges.

He is accused of terrorism over the alleged plot to topple the government, accepting bribes to issue the February 1 order and obstruction of justice for allegedly refusing to hand over his phone for a police investigation.

Saeed’s detention has been condemned as politically motivated.