The President of Adhaalath Party Sheikh Imran Abdulla, indicted for terrorism and held in a high security prison, was transferred to house arrest today.
Imran was arrested for a second time on June 2, ahead of the first hearing on terrorism the next day. Judges ordered Imran be kept in police custody until the trial concluded.
However, the trial did not proceed beyond one hearing.
Imran’s lawyer Ali Zahir said the Criminal Court today reviewed its earlier decision to keep Imran in custody, and transferred him to house arrest as the trial remains stalled.
Imran, who has diabetes, high blood pressure and cholesterol, has been brought to capital Malé several times for medical care since his arrest.
“Our hope is that he is freed as soon as possible. This is an unjust charge,” Zahir said.
Imran is to be kept under house arrest until his trial concludes.
His trial was stalled after two judges on the three-member bench were promoted to the High Court on June 8. The same three judges had also sentenced to jail former president Mohamed Nasheed, former defence ministers Mohamed Nazim and Ibrahim Tholhath.
A date for the next hearing in Imran’s trial has not been set, while a new panel has not been reconstituted.
On July 23, rumors swirled in Malé that Imran may be transferred to house arrest and Nasheed may be pardoned, as part of a deal between the main opposition Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) and the government. However, the Prosecutor General announced he would appeal Nasheed’s terrorism charge, and Imran was transferred to a high security prison on Maafushi Island.
Imran had led the opposition Maldivians Against Tyranny alliance. Former bitter rivals, the Adhaalath Party and the MDP allied after Nasheed and Nazim were arrested and brought to trial in February.
Imran was arrested on May 1, shortly after a historic anti-government protest. He was charged with inciting violence against police officers.
On May 27, after 26 days at the Dhoonidhoo Island remand center, he was released. But within days, he was arrested again.
Lawyers have raised concern over Imran’s transfer to a high security prison, noting the transfer is unusual as suspects are usually held in remand centers and not at prisons. The Maldives Correctional Services previously told Maldives Independent that the transfer was legal.
Nasheed is also under house arrest. His sentence was commuted to house arrest on July 19 after the opposition backed the impeachment of the vice president Dr Mohamed Jameel Ahmed.
The MDP has called on the government to honour its commitments to release all jailed politicians.