India Thursday expressed “deep dismay” over a Maldivian court sentencing the island nation’s former president Maumoon Abdul Gayoom and the chief justice of its Supreme Court to long prison terms without a “fair trial”. The External Affairs Ministry said the development casts a doubt on Maldivian government’s commitment to uphold rule of law and will raise questions on credibility of the presidential polls in the country, slated for September.
According to Maldivian media reports, Gayoom, 80, and Chief Justice Abdulla Saeed were handed similar prison terms of one year, seven months and six days by a court which found them guilty of obstructing justice.
In a statement, the MEA said India reiterated its “advice” to the Maldivian government to restore the credibility of electoral and political process by immediately releasing political prisoners, including Gayoom and the chief justice.
Since the beginning of the political crisis in the Maldives, the MEA said, India has repeatedly urged the Maldivian government to allow all institutions, including its Supreme Court and Parliament, to function in an independent manner and permit genuine dialogue between all political parties.
“It is, therefore, with deep dismay that we learned that the former president of the Maldives as well as the chief justice of the Supreme Court are being sentenced to long prison terms without fair trial,” it said in a statement.
Ties between India and Maldives nosedived after Maldivian President Abdulla Yameen declared emergency on February 5, following an order by Supreme Court to release a group of Opposition leaders convicted in widely-criticised trials. ens