Criminal Court Chief Judge, Ahmed Hailam has been suspended.
The Judicial Service Commission (JSC) announced this via a statement on Tuesday morning, after beginning investigations into a Victory Day message the judge had shared with a Viber group, which was leaked on social media.
The criminal court has also been notified of the judge’s suspension, which has been set for no longer than 60 days.
JSC revealed that Hailam has refused to turn up after a summon by the commission for questioning regarding the disrespectful message, for which Hailam has since apologized to President Ibrahim Mohamed Solih and Parliament Speaker and Former President Mohamed Nasheed, who are portrayed in the image shared, as cartoon figures, chained and being pulled by Victory Day martyr Corporal Hussain Adam along with several others.
In a letter addressed to the commission, Hailam stated that he had made the matter clear via a statement on Monday and that he does not believe he should share more details regarding it, with the commission.
JSC suspended the judge after deeming the reason he gave, inexcusable.
Following his suspension, the verdict hearing in former President Abdulla Yameen’s money-laundering trial has also been cancelled.
JSC added that it believes if Hailam were to preside over former’s case, it will obstruct the judicial proceeding of the case.
The judge is accused of having received bribe money to issue a verdict in Yameen’s favor.
Further, main ruling Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) has also called for an investigation into the judge, with its parliamentarians debating on the matter at the Majlis chamber for the past two days.
In his apology, Hailam asserted that he was “not aware” Nasheed or the President was portrayed in the image shared, and maintained that he had only shared it after seeing Abdulla Luthufee, the mastermind behind the 1988 coup, at the front of the line.
Also in his message, Hailam denied ever having used his position to gain undue benefits.
Luthufee was caught and sentenced to death, which was later commuted. He fled the country after being granted medical leave during former President Mohamed Nasheed’s administration.
3 November is annually celebrated as Victory Day after the country's military headquarters was attacked by a Tamil militant group working with a handful of Maldivians who committed treason. Maldives was able to fight off the terrorists with the help of Indian army.