URGENT NEWS UPDATE: Attorney General orders police and military not to follow Supreme Court rulings; moves to arrest judges

4 February, MALE’:

Attorney General announced he has ordered the police and the military not to follow rulings issued by the Supreme Court.

In a hastily arranged press conference in Male’ early this morning, Attorney-General Mohamed Anil (flanked by the Chief of Defense, General Shiyam, and the newly appointed Commissioner of Police, Abdulla Nawaz) effectively declared himself the chief judicial authority in the Maldives and ordered the police and the military not to follow rulings issued by the Supreme Court.

This represents an unconstitutional, highly illegal, and dangerous attempt by the Attorney General and President Yameen to usurp the powers of the judiciary.

AG Anil said he had reports that the Supreme Court would rule today that President Yameen can not longer hold office, following the president’s refusal to comply with Thursday’s Supreme Court ruling ordering the release of 9 political prisoners and the reinstatement of 12 opposition MPs.

Anil further said that as the Attorney General, under 133 of the Constitution he has the legal mandate to advise on all legal matters.

“[I] will not accept an order from the Supreme Court to remove President Yameen from power.

The AG said the Supreme Court is about to rule on Yameen, and that such a ruling would be a national security threat, and hence he would not allow for its implementation.

The Chief of Defense and the Police Commissioner said they will not uphold the Supreme Court rulings, and will follow the Attorney General’s instructions.

The Chief of Defense saying the military will obey the AG’s instructions, when President is the Commander in Chief is alarming, and unprecedented.

Police attempt arrest of Chief Justice and Judicial Administrator at the Department of Judicial Administration (DJA) of the Supreme Court

Protesters and Police clashed outside the home of the Chief Justice late last night, amidst reports that the Police were attempting to arrest the Chief Justice.

In the early hours of Sunday morning, the Police barged into the Department of Judicial Administration’s Chief Administrator, Hassan Saeed’s home, in an attempt to arrest him. However, Saeed was not at home.

A police statement following the raid, said the Police are searching for him, under allegations of bribery on a housing project. The Police further said they had evidence that family members of the Chief Justice Abdulla Saeed and Supreme Court Justice Ali Hameed are involved in bribery. The police claimed to have a court warrant for Saeed’s arrest, but have not shown the warrant to the public.

The Department of Judicial Administration oversees the administrative work of the Supreme Court and all other courts. Police have now launched a manhunt for DJA head Saeed.

The manhunt for the Judicial Administrator, based on a hitherto unheard of, old corruption case, linking to family members of the chief justices is evidence of President Yameen’s attempts to intimidate the judges. The arrest attempt and intimidation follows the apex court’s ruling, ordering the release of political prisoners, and the reinstatement of 12 opposition lawmakers. The police bribery witch-hunt bypasses the mandate of the Anti- Corruption Commission.

On 31 January, the Police arrested the IT head of the DJA, hours before the Supreme Court ruling.

On January 28, all the leaders of the opposition, together, petitioned the Supreme Court to remove President Abdulla Yameen from office, to rule that he has broken the law and is unfit for office.

The intimidation of the Supreme Justices, with the highly irregular statement made by the Attorney General defying the Supreme Court, supported by the two chiefs of the security forces, is tantamount to the effective sidelining of the judiciary and in direct contravention of the Constitution.

Maldivians are fearful that President Yameen is about to order a full military takeover of the country, in an attempt to ensure he is not removed from office.