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Verdict due in top judge’s obstruction trial

The chief justice faces a prison term of four months and 24 days if found guilty for obstruction of state functions.



The Supreme Court’s director general was not informed about the alleged stoppage of an online communications portal used across government agencies on February 4 and 5, a court heard Sunday, as a verdict looms in a case involving the country’s top judge.

Chief Justice Abdulla Saeed is on trial for obstruction of state functions after he allegedly ordered the halt of the government e-letter management system (GEMS) to block the delivery of three letters. He denies the charge.

The letters, from President Abdulla Yameen, outlined legal concerns with executing the February 1 Supreme Court order to release nine political prisoners and reinstate opposition lawmakers.

The apex court’s director general Ibrahim Waheed appeared as a defence witness on Sunday and testified that he was not informed about the GEMS stoppage although he is the head of the IT section.

He said he learned about the suspension through the media and explained the procedure in sending letters to the top court — either through GEMS or over the counter.

Waheed, responding to questions from Saeed, told the court it was not the chief justice who decides to accept letters but the legal section.

The chief justice meets with section heads if there is a problem and never gives direct orders to other employees, he added.

Prosecutor Shamla Shameem asked if Waheed reported to work on February 4 and 5. He said yes.

Court registrar Fathimath Yumna, senior employee Athika Ibrahim, Justice Ali Hameed and judicial administrator Hassan Saeed were also submitted as defence witnesses but did not attend the hearing.

Judge Ibrahim Ali said it was the defence counsel’s duty to ensure witnesses were present to testify. He also said the court cannot allow Hameed and Hassan to testify as they were also on trial for similar charges.

Saeed expressed concern over the court’s decision and said the evidence against him proved the charge is “fabricated.”

The closing arguments will be heard Monday morning, with lawyers preparing for a long hearing and a verdict.

Saeed faces a prison term of four months and 24 days if found guilty. He is also on trial for separate charges of terrorism, influencing official conduct and obstruction of justice. He denies these charges also.

Photo: Mihaaru