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Maldives ex-leader Gayoom charged with terrorism

  • Published at 05:55 pm March 21st, 2018
Maldives ex-leader Gayoom charged with terrorism

Maldivian authorities have charged former strongman Maumoon Abdul Gayoom and several senior judges with "terrorism" for attempting to topple President Abdulla Yameen, the government said Wednesday.

Eighty-year-old Gayoom and ten others, including the sacked chief justice Abdulla Saeed, were charged under state of emergency laws imposed in the paradise tourist island last month.

Yameen declared the draconian laws in February in a bid to prevent himself from being impeached by the national parliament after he lost his majority following a Supreme Court ruling.

The Prosecutor General's office said Wednesday that Gayoom, who ruled the country for 30 straight years until 2008, had been charged with attempting an "act of terrorism and obstruction of justice."

Gayoom's legislator son Faris Maumoon and son-in-law were also charged, along with another judge.

The 11 are accused of trying to topple Yameen who came to power following a controversial election run-off in November 2013 when he narrowly defeated former president Mohamed Nasheed.

Yameen declared the emergency on February 5, curtailing the powers of the judiciary and the legislature, after the country's Supreme Court ruled to quash criminal convictions against high profile opposition politicians.

The ruling would have allowed Nasheed, who lives in exile in London, to return to the archipelago and challenge Yameen for the presidency.

Yameen refused to carry out the court order and instead arrested the chief justice and another Supreme Court judge.

The remaining judges revoked the earlier decision to release the MPs while Yameen also stripped parliament of its power to impeach him.

He has resisted international calls to end the state of emergency, release all political prisoners and restore the rule of law.

The crackdown has dented the nation's image as a popular tourist destination.