The Supreme Court has suspended former president Mohamed Nasheed’s 13-year jail sentence pending a review of his terrorism conviction.
The stay order issued Tuesday afternoon clears the way for the exiled opposition leader to return as planned on November 1 without the risk of imprisonment.
The apex court was asked by the Prosecutor General on Monday to review the guilty verdict, hours before parliament approved a resolution to free Nasheed.
Until the review is completed, the court ordered “all relevant state authorities not to take any action against Mohamed Nasheed” in relation to his conviction.
The Maldivian Democratic Party has been preparing a grand welcome, urging supporters from across the country to gather in the capital.
Nasheed has been living in exile in England and Sri Lanka since he was granted medical leave from prison in January 2016.
He was found guilty of ordering the “abduction” of a judge after a widely criticised trial in March 2015.
The UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention ruled Nasheed’s jailing was illegal and politically motivated but the government’s rejected the “non-binding opinion” and the Supreme Court upheld the verdict in June 2016.
The government also remained defiant when the UN Human Rights Committee decided in March this year that Nasheed’s right to contest elections must be restored.
Earlier this month, Nasheed announced his intention to return to the Maldives “come what may.”
Nasheed will be accompanied on his return by president-elect Ibrahim Mohamed Solih, who is due to fly to Colombo on Wednesday, the president-elect’s spokeswoman told the press after the Supreme Court order.
Several politicians have returned from exile or been released from prison since the joint opposition candidate decisively defeated President Abdulla Yameen in the September 23 election.
Last week, the High Court overturned convictions handed to Jumhooree Party leader Gasim Ibrahim and former president Maumoon Abdul Gayoom as the Criminal Court dismissed pending charges against several opposition figures, most recently former defence minister Ameen Faisal and MP Ibrahim Mohamed Didi.
On Monday, the Supreme Court also decided to review the convictions of Adhaalath Party leader Sheikh Imran Abdulla, former defence minister Mohamed Nazim, and former lawmaker Ahmed Nazim.