Criminal Court on Tuesday sentenced Chief Justice Abdulla Saeed to four months and 24 days in prison.
The Chief Justice was convicted of the obstruction of state duties charge against him and was sentenced to prison by Criminal Court Judge Ibrahim Ali during Tuesday’s hearing.
This is the first time in Maldivian history where the Chief Justice has been convicted of a crime.
After the verdict, Chief Justice told the presiding judge that he had attained the status of a martyr and that he is still alive, while the Judgement Day is yet to come. However, the presiding judge did not respond to the CJ.
Although the CJ smiled at those at the court, and greeted them by a hand gesture, his face portrayed worry.
The CJ was charged with obstructing the administrative functions of the state for allegedly ordering the employees of the Supreme Court to suspend Government E-letter Management System (GEMS) – a network that has been established to exchange government documents.
However CJ Abdulla Saeed had denied the charges against him.
According to the State, CJ barred the Supreme Court from receiving letters addressed to it by suspending GEMS, following the government’s attempt to communicate with the CJ after its February 1 ruling. Hence the government was unable to send the letters to the Supreme Court, the state said at court.
The State’s secret witness, using voice distortion, testified that they ordered another employee to suspend GEMS on CJ’s orders. Another secret witness said that they cut the service line after the order.
However, testifying in defense of the CJ, Supreme Court’s Director General Ibrahim Waheed said while he was the head of the Information Technology (IT) Division of Supreme Court, he was not informed that GEMS was suspended. He came to know about it when it was broadcasted on media reports, Ibrahim Waheed said.
The Chief Justice was sentenced upon the testimony of witnesses. His legal team had stated that they would appeal the case at High Court.
According to the amendment brought to the Judicature Act on March 13, if a judge gets a criminal sentence, he/she will be dismissed immediately. While many lawyers argued that it was in violation of Article 154 of the Judicature Act, Supreme Court ruled not to nullify the amendment on April 25.
The amendment was ratified by President Abdulla Yameen on March 14 after Chief Justice Abdulla Saeed and Justice Ali Hameed were arrested.
Article 154 states that a judge may be removed from office only if the Judicial Service Commission (JSC) finds that the person is grossly incompetent, or that the judge is guilty of gross misconduct, and submits to the parliament a resolution supporting the removal of the judge, after which two thirds of the members in attendance should vote in favour of the removal for it to pass.