The criminal court has released former ruling party lawmakers Mohamed Ameeth and Saud Hussain after nearly one month in police custody.
But the court imposed a curfew of 9 pm to 6 am on the pair and prohibited them from meeting any witnesses. Their release was also conditional upon appearing at court when summoned.
Ameeth and Saud were arrested along with MP Mohamed Waheed Ibrahim for entering the People’s Majlis building on July 24 after the Elections Commission and the parliament secretariat declared that they were no longer members of parliament.
Their release comes after the Prosecutor General’s office pressed charges of criminal trespassing and obstruction of law enforcement officers against the three disqualified lawmakers on Sunday morning.
The PG office also charged nine other opposition lawmakers with obstruction for allegedly scaling security barricades to enter the parliament house, after which they were manhandled and dragged out by police officers and soldiers in riot gear.
Last Wednesday, the court detained Ameeth and Saud for the third time after extending their detention by four more days on Saturday when their first 15-day remand expired.
The pair was released Sunday afternoon when they were brought to their fourth remand hearing.
Waheed, Ameeth and Saud are among six lawmakers deemed to have lost their seats after the Supreme Court ruled that MPs who were elected on political party tickets will be disqualified once the electoral body notifies parliament that they have either left their party, been expelled, or switched parties.
The three MPs insist that they were expelled from the Progressive Party of Maldives before the July 13 anti-defection ruling – which the apex court later clarified would not apply retroactively – but the Elections Commission declared their seats vacant after informing parliament of their expulsion from the ruling party on July 18.
The apex court concluded hearing appeals filed by four lawmakers contesting their disqualification last Sunday. It is unclear when the court will issue a ruling.
MPs Waheed, Ameeth and Saud were expelled from the PPM in late March and early April after taking former President Maumoon Abdul Gayoom’s side in an acrimonious leadership dispute with his half-brother President Abdulla Yameen.
The PPM was split into rival factions after the elder Gayoom was stripped of his powers as the party’s elected leader in October last year. The 79-year-old went on to form a broad opposition coalition to secure a majority of the 85-member house with defections from the divided ruling party.
Gayoom’s son, MP Faris Maumoon, who was leading the group of ex-PPM lawmakers, was meanwhile arrested on July 18 on charges of attempting to bribe lawmakers.
The PG office also filed bribery charges against the Dhiggaru MP on Sunday. Following his arrest, the criminal court ordered Faris’s detention for the duration of the bribery trial.
The High Court is due to rule on the legality of the arrest and detention.
Faris is also on trial over an identity fraud charge over the use of the PPM’s flag and logo at a joint opposition press conference.