Former Prosecutor General Muhthaz Muhsin was taken into police custody for a second time today after an appellate court overruled his release from remand last Friday.
Muhsin is facing prosecution over a charge of issuing a “fake” arrest warrant for President Abdulla Yameen over Maldives’ biggest ever corruption scandal.
The former chief prosecutor was first arrested on February 7 along with Judge Ahmed Nihan of the Alif Dhaalu Maamigili Court after police claimed they had discovered a plot to overthrow Yameen.
Their arrest came shortly after the auditor general’s office published a report revealing that US$80million was stolen from the state-owned Maldives Marketing and Public Relations Corporation.
The prosecutor general’s office is now seeking charges of forgery and planning an unlawful arrest against Muhsin and Nihan. The judge also faces charges of official misconduct.
Police claim Muhsin and his accomplices travelled by speedboat to Maamigili around 12:45am on February 7 “to seek a court order to arrest President Abdulla Yameen and topple the government.”
Nihan, who remains in police custody, is alleged to have signed the court order.
Chief Superintendent Mohamed Riyaz had told the press at the time that the warrant was “left on a street in Malé” in the early hours of February 7 and that activists from a political party had tried to create the impression that the police were about to arrest the president.
He also that said former President Mohamed Nasheed– who is currently in the UK on a 30-day medical leave from prison – had called a senior officer of the security services and encouraged him to enforce the warrant.
Muhsin, who had overseen the controversial prosecutions of Nasheed and former Defence Minister Mohamed Nazim last year, was removed from his post last November by the pro-government majority in parliament following reports that he was stalling bribery charges against detained former Vice President Ahmed Adeeb.
Adeeb was arrested in October on suspicion of links to an explosion on Yameen’s speedboat. He is now standing trial on terrorism and corruption.
Yameen has sought to shrug off responsibility for the scandal, saying there was “no reason at all” for the police to question the president over the missing funds.
“The court order was released while I was asleep… This is a warrant issued by a magistrate court. If it’s a case against President Yameen, I should be given notice to ask if I was aware of it. I should be taken to court. [But] I was asleep. Maybe I was to be arrested in my dream,” he said at the time.
Nasheed also issued a statement saying he had called Brigadier General Zakariyya Mansoor upon learning that a warrant has been issued for Yameen’s arrest.
The opposition leader said he had asked the senior military officer if he was aware of the warrant and “and advised him to follow the laws and the constitution of the country.”
The Supreme Court meanwhile issued a circular declaring that only the criminal court in Malé can issue arrest warrants for individuals residing in the capital.
Muhsin, who was also a former criminal court judge, was remanded for seven days today.
While the criminal court has refused to extend Muhsin’s remand, the High Court said the “grave nature” of the allegations against Muhsin means “there is a high risk that he may influence the witnesses and become a threat to society.”