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Teary-eyed judge declares innocence in terror trial

The state accuses Justice Ali Hameed of accepting bribes to influence judges before issuing a shock Supreme Court ruling in an attempt to overthrow the lawfully elected government. He denies the charge.



Justice Ali Hameed on Sunday tearfully declared his innocence and pure intent in issuing the February 1 Supreme Court ruling to release nine political prisoners and reinstate a dozen lawmakers.

The state accuses him of accepting bribes to influence judges before issuing the ruling in an attempt to overthrow the lawfully elected government. He denies the charge.

Hameed wept at the hearing, relaying his sense of dejection after prosecutors accused him of acting in a manner that negatively affected the state he had been serving since the age of 25.

He told the court about criticism towards the Supreme Court when trials are held in violation to procedure, saying hundreds of complaint letters were addressed to the court and individual judges.

The ruling was issued after serious deliberation among the justices and with a unanimous decision of the five-member bench of the top court, he said. It was issued because the Supreme Court has the highest duty in establishing justice, he added.

Defence lawyers asked the state why only Hameed and Chief Justice Abdulla Saeed were charged in connection with a ruling issued by the five justices of the top court. Prosecutors said the investigation found that the pair had taken bribes for a coup plot.

Separately, MP Faris Maumoon described his terrorism trial as a dream and denied the charge. He is accused of bribing judges since 2013 and trying to overthrow the government through parliament and being involved in issuing the Supreme Court order.

Faris is the real mastermind of the coup, prosecutors alleged. The state presented 32 pieces of evidence against both Hameed and Faris, including several secret documents and anonymous witnesses.

The next hearing is scheduled for Thursday.

Faris’ father, former president Maumoon Abdul Gayoom, Saeed, three lawmakers, and former police commissioner Ahmed Areef are also on trial for terrorism in connection with the alleged coup plot.

At Sunday’s hearing, Judge Ahmed Hailam announced that a single terrorism trial will be carried out for all six suspects after concluding the ongoing separate pretrial hearings.

If found guilty, they will be jailed for up to 20 years.