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MP Saud summoned over alleged plot to assassinate judge

MP Saud Hussain was questioned by the police Thursday night over an alleged plot to assassinate High Court Judge Shujau Usman.



MP Saud Hussain was questioned by the police Thursday night over an alleged plot to assassinate High Court Judge Shujau Usman.

“I am suspected of funding and plotting to kill Usman and also plotting to put him in jail,” the lawmaker told the Maldives Independent.

Saud said he denied the allegation and gave a statement for the police investigation.

A relative of Saud’s and a former senior police executive at the education ministry, Ibrahim Haneef, was arrested on April 4 on terrorism charges for allegedly plotting to assassinate the judge. The criminal court extended his remand detention four times before transferring him to house arrest in mid-May.

The high court ordered his release upon appeal on May 30.

Haneef’s arrest came shortly after Saud pledged support to former President Maumoon Abdul Gayoom’s reform efforts in early April.

Several opposition lawmakers have been placed under investigation since Gayoom formed an alliance with the opposition parties to try and seize the parliamentary majority from President Abdulla Yameen with defections from the divided ruling party.

Gayoom’s son, MP Faris Maumoon, was barred from leaving the country and Jumhooree Party leader Gasim Ibrahim was put on trial on charges of attempting to bribe lawmakers.

Saud was the second Progressive Party of Maldives MP to abandon Yameen’s faction after the new opposition coalition sought unsuccessfully to remove the speaker of parliament in late March.

Several government officials close to Saud were dismissed from their posts soon after the MP for the Villigili constituency in Gaaf Alif atoll joined the Gayoom faction.

Shazail Siyam, Saud’s brother-in-law of, was dismissed as deputy tourism minister on April 12. He was not given a reason for the dismissal.

“I was doing my best to serve this government. I am happy with my commitment to the government. But now that I have been dismissed without a reason, I believe that it comes because of my connection to Saud,” he told the press.

Shafiz Moosa, also a close associate of Saud, was dismissed as the manager of Gaaf Alif atoll hospital. Shafiz was reportedly appointed to the post upon Saud’s request.

The day after his dismissal, the hospital’s staff observed a moment of silence and wore black to work, Sun Online reported.

Saud said in a tweet that “the government has lost loyal servicemen with the dismissal of Shafiz, Ibrahim Haneef and Shazail. Proud of them”.

Judge Shujau Usman was meanwhile transferred to the high court’s southern branch in Addu City in June 2016.

Local media reported in February that he was moved back to the main branch in the capital over threats to his life in the southernmost atoll.

Following reports suggesting that the judge was taken into custody and brought to Malé, the police said at the time that he was provided security upon request.

Usman previously served as a judge at the criminal court and presided over the trials of high-profile politicians including former President Mohamed Nasheed and former Defence Minister Mohamed Nazim in early 2015.