(MALDIVES, LANKAPUVATH) – A court in the Maldives has thrown out a “terrorism” conviction against the island nation’s former President Mohamed Nasheed, and ordered the release of several other jailed politicians.
The Supreme Court ruling on Thursday came after an opposition alliance petitioned the top court to temporarily remove President Abdulla Yameen for misrule, rights abuses and “unprecedented corruption”.
Judges did not rule on that request, but instead ordered the release of a total of nine people they said were jailed in unfair trials.
The court also reinstated 12 parliament members who were stripped of their seats when they defected to the opposition last year.
That gives the opposition a clear majority in the parliament, which has the power to impeach the president.
The main opposition Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) hailed the ruling, describing it as a “death knell for President Yameen’s corrupt and criminal dictatorship”.
Yameen, 58, assumed office in 2013 after winning a controversial runoff against Nasheed.
His presidency has been marked by political intrigue, turmoil, and allegations of corruption, which have dented the Maldives’ image as a tourist paradise.
The unrest began in 2015 when Nasheed, the country’s first democratically elected leader, was jailed on “terrorism” charges relating to the arrest of a judge during his tenure.
The trial, declared unfair by the UN, prompted widespread protests and resulted in the arrest of hundreds of dissidents.
Since then, almost all key opposition leaders have either been jailed or gone into exile. In 2016, Nasheed also sought political asylum in the United Kingdom after traveling there on medical leave from prison.
Reacting to the developments in Male on Thursday, Nasheed said he welcomed the Supreme Court’s decision and urged Yameen to “abide by this ruling and resign”.