K. Male' | Humaam Ali | 10-May-2018 | Thursday 12:09 | HumaamAli | Report | 1,969
The Criminal Court on Tuesday sentenced Supreme Court Chief Justice Abdulla Saeed to four months and 24 days in prison for obstructing government function. He has denied the charges but his conviction is becoming a theme in President Abdulla Yameen’s administration.
Saeed is accused of ordering court employees to shut down the Government E-Letter Management System (GEMS), stopping the Supreme Court from receiving incoming messages.
He is also charged with conspiring to overthrow the government and has been remanded for the rest of his trial. The charges against him and Justice Ali Hameed come after the Supreme Court on February 1 ordered the release of nine political prisoners and reinstatement of opposition MPs to parliament. The government has refused to abide by the ruling and on February 5 President Abdulla Yameen declared a state of emergency and arrested the two justices.
President Yameen’s administration, who has a stranglehold on all branches of the government, will most likely remove him as chief justice next, since the parliament recently passed an amendment to the Judges Act which disqualifies judges found guilty of a criminal offense- after all avenues for appeal have been exhausted. The amendment to the Judges Act was proposed by MP Abdul Raheem Abdulla, the deputy leader of the ruling party and was ratified by President Abdulla Yameen on 14th March, a day after the parliament approved it. It was proposed and passed after the chief justice's arrest.
This has come as no surprise, as President Yameen’s government has already seen a vice president and a minister go through the same process.
Ahmed Adeeb was appointed as Vice President in late June 2015, after the parliament voted to impeach then Vice President Dr Jameel for alleged treason.
Before the appointment, the parliament had to set to new age-limits of 30-65 years for the vice presidency through a constitutional amendment since Adeeb was 33 years old, and the constitution restricts eligibility for the post to those 35 and above.
Three months after becoming the youngest vice president in the nation’s history, Adeeb was charged with high treason on suspicion of involvement in the explosion in the President’s speedboat on September 28, 2015. He was arrested on October 24, 2015 and impeached days later. Adeeb is now serving prison sentences totalling 33 years.
In January 2015, then Defence Minister Mohamed Nazim was dismissed after a night time raid of his apartment. Police claimed that the officers found a pistol, three bullets, and an explosive in the building, and in March, two months later, he was found guilty of weapons smuggling and was sentenced to 11 years in prison.
Nazim has maintained that a police officer had planted the weapon on the orders of then Vice President Ahmed Adeeb to frame him, and Adeeb has since said that he knows those involved in framing the former defence minister.
President Yameen’s ever increasing centralization of state powers means that it becomes easier to prosecute and dismiss senior state officials that do not toe the line.
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