The High Court overturned Wednesday former Supreme Court justice Ali Hameed’s conviction over his refusal to hand over a mobile phone to the police.
A three-judge panel quashed the criminal court verdict citing due process violations and insufficient evidence.
Hameed was found guilty of obstruction of justice and sentenced to 19 months in prison along with former chief justice Abdulla Saeed and former president Maumoon Abdul Gayoom.
All three were arrested in February on separate charges of conspiring to topple the government. Former president Abdulla Yameen claimed the justices accepted bribes and instigated a coup with the Supreme Court’s February 1 order for the release of his jailed opponents.
Following Yameen’s election defeat, the High Court overturned Gayoom’s conviction on the same obstruction of justice charge.
During the hearings on Hameed’s appeal last month, the former justice questioned the legality of the order to hand over his mobile phone, which he told the court was made by masked men who broke down the door while he was inside the Supreme Court offices.
The security forces stormed the court premises after Yameen declared a state of emergency and suspended legal immunities for judges.
Hameed and former chief justice Saeed were transferred to house arrest on November 18, a day after President Ibrahim Mohamed Solih took the oath of office.
In early October, the criminal court also dismissed bribery charges raised against the former justices.
The pair was removed from the bench when their former colleagues in the Supreme Court refused to hear their appeals, clearing the way for the president to reconstitute the apex court and appoint a new chief justice.
Controversial legal changes were pushed through in March to remove judges once a conviction is upheld by the Supreme Court, the final stage of appeal.
The new rule circumvented the parliamentary vote to remove a Supreme Court justice called for by the constitution, which requires a two-thirds majority to approve a finding of gross incompetence or misconduct by the judicial watchdog.