A judge who presided over former President Mohamed Nasheed’s widely criticised terrorism trial was appointed as the chief judge of the High Court on Thursday.
Abdulla Didi, who was also part of the criminal court bench that sentenced former defence ministers Mohamed Nazim and Tholhath Ibrahim Kaleyfaanu, was appointed in a closed meeting by the watchdog Judicial Services Commission.
The chief judge post has been vacant since August 2014, when then-Chief Judge Ahmed Shareef was demoted over an ethical misconduct allegation.
The High Court is the second tier in Maldives’ three-tiered system and has authority to review election-related complaints as well as constitutional matters.
Didi was first appointed to the appellate court in June, soon after Nasheed, Nazim and Tholhath’s trial ended. His promotion was widely perceived as a reward for his role in sentencing them.
A UN human rights panel has called Nasheed’s sentencing politically motivated and urged his immediate release.
Didi was also part of the bench that heard charges of terrorism against opposition Adhaalath Party President Sheikh Imran Abdulla. The trial was stalled after Didi’s promotion, and Imran was in remand detention for months before he was transferred to house arrest.
Didi’s colleague in the high-profile cases, Judge Sujau Usman, was also promoted to the High Court in June. The third judge Abdul Bari Yoosuf was awarded a discounted flat in a luxury apartment complex in Malé.
The Maldives Independent understands that Didi and Usman hold degrees in Islamic Shari’ah and law after taking part in a two-year accelerated degree course established at the College of Islamic Studies specifically for judges without higher education.
The pair’s appointment came just ten days after the Supreme Court overturned a High Court ruling, which had noted several flaws in the new regulation on selecting judges to the appellate court.
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