The criminal court has found the former chief prosecutor guilty of terrorism for conspiring to kidnap President Abdulla Yameen.
Muhthaz Muhsin was handed a 17-year jail term tonight.
Husnu Suood, Muhsin’s lawyer, has branded the trial unfair and said he intends to launch an appeal immediately.
Muhsin is accused of forging an arrest warrant for Yameen’s arrest on February 7.
Prosecutors claim Muhsin had traveled to a magistrate court on the island of Maamigili in Alif Dhaal Atoll at 3:30am on February 7 to seek a fake warrant against the president.
At the time, the auditor general’s office had issued a damning audit report revealing the theft of some US$80million from state coffers. The opposition blames Yameen for the historic scandal, but the president claims his former deputy masterminded the theft.
Muhsin’s lawyers said he had only traveled to Maamigilli on the orders of senior police officers, and had no intent of securing a fake warrant.
He was accompanied by several policemen and two civilians.
The defence said Muhsin left Maamigili when one of the civilians accompanying him claimed a warrant had been obtained in Malé. The warrant from another magistrate court was handed to the police by a man called Siraj, lawyers said, and had no link to Muhsin.
Suood said: “The court refused to summon key defence witnesses. We called a deputy commissioner of police to prove Muhsin traveled on the police’s orders, but he refused to provide testimony.”
The verdict was issued by the Judge Abdul Bari Yoosuf, the acting chief judge of the criminal court. Bari read out the verdict moments after sentencing former Vice President Ahmed Adeeb and two of his military bodyguards to lengthy jail terms on terrorism charges.
Ahmed Nihan, the magistrate of the Maamigili Court, is also standing trial on terror charges. The court was set to deliver a verdict in Nihan’s case tonight, but cancelled the hearing at the last minute.
Tonight’s rulings are the latest in a series of prosecutions against opposition leaders and former senior officials of the government.
Bari had also played a key role in sentencing former President Mohamed Nasheed, two defence ministers and the leader of the Adhaalath Party.
Reporting by Mohamed Saif Fathih