The judicial watchdog has suspended Criminal Court Judge Ahmed Rasheed pending an inquiry into complaints of ethical misconduct.
In a brief statement issued Thursday, the Judicial Service Commission was put on a forced leave of absence “because the witnesses submitted in relation to this complaint are some judges and staff of the criminal court, the [investigating] committee believes the chances of influencing witnesses will be high if the subject of the complaint, Judge Ahmed Rasheed, is able to report to work”.
The judge will remain suspended until the committee submits its investigation report to the JSC, it added.
Rasheed, who gave a statement to the JSC inquiry on Wednesday, was formerly a member of the 10-member oversight body for the judiciary as the representatives of licensed lawyers.
He was appointed to the bench in early 2015.
Rasheed’s suspension follows a shuffle of the criminal court bench amid the prosecution of several opposition lawmakers.
In early July, 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 at the request of the Supreme Court.
Opposition figures alleged that the transfers were prompted by the pair’s decision to throw out bribery charges raised against Jumhooree Party leader Gasim Ibrahim.
Both Bari and Shakeel were on the three-judge panel that presided over the opposition lawmaker’s trial, which resumed in late July.
Judge Bari was a controversial figure over his role in several high-profile trials. He was part of the bench that jailed former President Mohamed Nasheed and former Defence Minister Mohamed Nazim after rushed trials that drew widespread condemnation over the apparent lack of due process.
The criminal court’s former chief judge, Abdulla Mohamed, was meanwhile abruptly transferred to the family court in February last year. The JSC did not specify a reason for the move at the time.
In April, the JSC appointed Adam Arif, a former public prosecutor who was involved in the prosecution of Nasheed and Nazim, to the criminal court.
Arif was put in charge of the court as acting chief judge after Bari’s demotion.
Ali Adam, the court’s former registrar for a brief period, was also appointed to a vacant seat on the bench in April.
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