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Obstruction charge trial to proceed against chief justice

The chief justice is also on trial for bribery, terrorism and obstruction of justice.



The court has decided to proceed to trial in the obstruction of government function charge against Chief Justice Abdulla Saeed, local media reported, despite arguments that it violates the criminal procedures law.

He faces the charge over allegations he ordered the Supreme Court staff to halt an online communications portal used across government agencies called the government e-letter management system (GEMS) on February 4 and 5.

A three-hour long debate took place in criminal court on Monday over the 11 motions raised by Saeed’s legal team at the previous hearing.

Defence lawyers claimed the charges violated the criminal procedures law and the penal code and did not specify which criminal offence had been committed.

Noorusalam Abubakuru also asked why the government needed to communicate with the Supreme Court over an order issued by the top court.

But state prosecutors insisted that the charge complied with the law and said Saeed was charged because he was the top figure at the Supreme Court.

The suspended chief justice, who has denied the charge, said the Supreme Court’s registrar, judicial administrator and corporate management would be aware if the system was stopped.

“I do not even know about this. We [Supreme Court] did not face any technical issues [that day],” he said.

Saeed added that he only went to the Supreme Court on February 4 to hold a hearing to respond to an issue raised by the prosecutor general and denied having spent long hours in court that day.

Judge Ibrahim Ali decided to proceed to trial after listening to the arguments from both side and said testimony from state witnesses would be taken at the next hearing.

The state has submitted three anonymous witnesses and secret documents. The defence attorneys asked for sufficient time to submit evidence but the judge gave them until midday Wednesday.

He will be sentenced to four months and 24 days in prison if convicted. He is also on trial for bribery, terrorism and obstruction of justice.

President Abdulla Yameen’s administration claims the Supreme Court instigated a coup and triggered a constitutional crisis with its February 1 order for the release of his jailed opponents and the reinstatement of opposition lawmakers.

Saeed, along with Justice Ali Hameed and former president Maumoon Abdul Gayoom, were arrested hours after Yameen invoked emergency powers on February 5 and suspended constitutional rights and legal immunity for judges.