Maldives top court orders immediate release of political prisoner

Updated: Feb 03, 2018, 15:11 IST | Agencies

Maldives top court orders immediate release of political prisoners, including former president, but orders new trials against them

Maldivian opposition protesters demand the release of political prisoners during a protest on Friday. Pics/AFP
Maldivian opposition protesters demand the release of political prisoners during a protest on Friday. Pics/AFP

The Supreme Court of the Maldives on Thursday ordered the immediate release of former president Mohammed Nasheed and eight other opposition leaders, saying their trials had violated the constitution and international law - but it also ordered new trials. The country has been mired in political unrest since Nasheed, its first democratically elected leader, was ousted in 2012.

He was later sentenced to 13 years in jail on terrorism charges, after a trial denounced as hasty and unfair by the United Nations human rights chief. In its ruling on Thursday, the Supreme Court said it found that prosecutors and judges had been unduly influenced "to conduct politically motivated investigations" into the allegations levelled at Nasheed, former vice-president Ahmed Adeeb and other opposition leaders who had challenged President Abdulla Yameen.

It ordered fresh investigations and trials to be held. It also nullified a ruling in which 12 legislators lost their parliamentary seats for defecting last July from Yameen's ruling party. Ibrahim Hussain Shihab, a spokesman for the President's Office, said in a statement the government had questions about the ruling but would comply with it.

Exiled former prez to run again
The exiled former presid-ent of the Maldives said yesterday that he will run again for office. Current President Yameen Abdul Gayoom had been set to run for re-election virtually unopposed, with all of his opponents either jailed or exiled. But former president Mohammed Nasheed, who is among the prisoners ordered freed, said he would challenge Yameen.

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