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Maldives court approves anonymity and secrecy in Gayoom terror trial

The former dictator faces between 17 and 20 years in jail if convicted.



Anonymous witnesses and secret evidence will be allowed in the terror trial of former president Maumoon Abdul Gayoom, the Criminal Court ruled Tuesday.

Gayoom is charged with terrorism over an alleged attempt to overthrow the government of his half-brother, President Abdulla Yameen.

The 82-year-old was arrested in February on charges of plotting a coup. He denies the charge.

Prosecutors asked the court during Tuesday’s preliminary hearing to issue a permanent order to protect the identity of state witnesses and for their testimony to also remain anonymous, local media reported.

Prosecutors also asked the court to maintain the secrecy of four documents submitted as evidence.

Gayoom said anonymous witnesses should not be permitted as it was not in Islamic Sharia. Testimony should be taken openly and publicly, he added.

Counsel for the ex-dictator said there was no legal provision that allowed for anonymous testimony.

Ibrahim Shameel said the Criminal Procedures Act only allowed anonymous testimony as provided under the Evidence Act, but that the Evidence Act had no provision for anonymous testimony.

The judge ruled in favour of prosecutors, based on the precedent of using anonymous witnesses in court.

He also issued a permanent order protecting the identities of the witnesses, as requested by prosecutors.

Gayoom will be given the opportunity to make his submissions to court at the next preliminary hearing.

He faces between 17 and 20 years in jail if convicted.

He has already been found guilty of obstruction of justice and sentenced to 19 months in prison. He denied this charge also.

Photo: @evattey