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Shujau Usman appointed High Court chief judge

Shujau Usman received death threats last year, local media reported.



The Judicial Service Commission has appointed Shujau Usman as the new chief judge at the High Court.

He was appointed with the unanimous votes of JSC members at a meeting Wednesday.

Usman acted as the High Court’s head judge following Abdulla Didi’s move to the Supreme Court in July. He was appointed to the High Court in 2015 and served at the court’s southern branch in Addu City in 2016.

Local media reported last year that he was moved back to the main branch in the capital over death threats in the southernmost atoll.

MP Saud Hussain and ex-government official Ibrahim Haneef were accused of planning to assassinate the judge. They deny the allegation.

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.

In a separate development the JSC said Thursday that Criminal Court Judge Ahmed Rasheed was transferred to the Civil Court after he asked for the change, local media reported.

Rasheed was last week cleared of misconduct after almost a year’s suspension over a row with then-chief judge Adam Arif.

Rasheed was formerly a JSC member – a 10-member oversight body – as the representatives of licensed lawyers. He was appointed to the bench in early 2015.

His suspension in August followed a shuffle of the Criminal Court bench amid the prosecution of several opposition lawmakers.

In early July 2017, the JSC abruptly transferred the criminal court’s former chief judge, Abdul Bari Yousuf, to the Juvenile Court and Judge Ahmed Shakeel to the Family Court. The transfers were made at the request of the Supreme Court.

Opposition figures alleged that it was prompted by the pair’s decision to throw out bribery charges raised against Jumhooree Party leader Gasim Ibrahim.

Adam Arif, a former public prosecutor who was involved in the prosecution of Nasheed and Nazim, was appointed to the Criminal Court in April last year.

Arif was put in charge of the court as acting chief judge after Bari’s demotion.

While he was suspended, Rasheed’s motorbike was set alight at a Hulhumalé parking zone in October last year.

Last week, Criminal Court Judge Muhthaz Fahmy was also transferred to the civil court.