Criminal Court Chief Judge, Ahmed Hailam, has apologized to President Ibrahim Mohamed Solih and Speaker, former President Mohamed Nasheed.
Hailam has been in the headlines since Sunday night, after the Victory Day message he had shared with a Viber group was leaked on social media.
Maldives marks Victory Day on November 3, where the country’s military headquarters was attacked by a Tamil militant group working with a few locals.
Hailam’s message to the Criminal Court group includes a cartoon of national hero and Victory Day martyr Corporal Hussain Adam pulling eight figures who are tied to chains. This includes incumbent President Ibrahim Mohamed Solih and former President Mohamed Nasheed.
The judge has apologized to the Maldivian people, as well as Solih and Nasheed, over the image shared.
In a statement released late Monday night, Hailam said that he was not aware that the drawing included Solih or Nasheed, claiming that he had only shared the message after seeing Abdulla Luthufee.
Luthufee is the known mastermind behind the 1988 attack. He was caught and sentenced to death. While his sentence was later commuted, he fled after being granted medical leave during former President Mohamed Nasheed’s administration.
His return to the country, and prison this July, has been one of the incumbent administration's biggest victories since assuming office last November.
“I only shared the photo with the group after seeing Abdulla Luthufee, H. Haajaraage, and without checking the rest of the individuals in it. When I posted the photo to the Viber group, I was not aware that it had drawings of President Ibrahim Mohamed Solih and Parliament Speaker, former President Mohamed Nasheed. The thought never even crossed my mind. I extend my apologies to President Solih, Speaker Nasheed and the Maldivian people”
~ Judge Ahmed Hailam
While the message was sent two days prior to the sentencing hearing of former President Abdulla Yameen, which is being presided by Hailam, the Criminal Court chief judge has faced immense backlash since.
Noting that some political figures have accused him of taking bribes in the case, including on the parliament floor, the judge described this as an attempt to influence him.
Hailam further denied ever using his position to gain undue benefits, to anyone.
While Hailam has apologized for the disrespectful message, the Judicial Service Commission (JSC) has decided to investigate the matter. In addition, main ruling Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) has also called for an investigation into the judge.