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Maldives Supreme Court revokes order to free prisoners

The shock decision of the court was seen as clearing the way for opposition leader Mohamed Nasheed to end his self-imposed exile and return to the country to contest elections later this year.

Published: 06th February 2018 11:29 PM  |   Last Updated: 06th February 2018 11:29 PM   |  A+A-

Maldivian opposition protestors shout slogans demanding the release of political prisoners during a protest in Male, Maldives, Friday, Feb. 2, 2018. | AP

By AFP

MALE: The Maldives' highest court Tuesday revoked an order to release nine high-profile political prisoners a day after President Abdulla Yameen declared a state of emergency and arrested two top judges.

The remaining three judges of the Supreme Court said in a statement they were rescinding the order to release the prisoners "in light of the concerns raised by the President".

"The Supreme Court bench hereby rescinds number 5 of its order to release the individuals," it said.

The court's original decision signed by all five judges of the apex court on February 1 had quashed a terrorism conviction against former president and opposition leader Mohamed Nasheed, among others.

The shock decision of the court in support of the political dissidents was seen as clearing the way for Nasheed to end his self-imposed exile and return to the country to contest elections later this year.

The move also included an order for the government to restore the seats of 12 legislators sacked for defecting from Yameen's party, giving the opposition a the majority in the assembly and meaning they could potentially impeach the president.

But Yameen refused to comply with the order and instead declared a 15-day state of emergency in the honeymoon islands, giving sweeping powers to security forces to arrest and detain individuals while curtailing the powers of the judiciary and parliament to impeach him.

Nasheed's Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) said the U-turn of the Supreme Court was due to pressure brought on the three judges.

"Yameen has used coercion to get the original decision revoked," MDP spokesman Hamid Abdul Ghafoor told AFP.

Yameen has presided over an escalating crackdown on dissent since he came to power in 2013, battering the image of the upmarket holiday paradise.



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