Maldives’ top judge arrested as state of emergency declared

This article is more than 12 months old

MALE: The Maldives' top judge was arrested yesterday as security forces stormed the Supreme Court at dawn, in a deepening confrontation with President Abdulla Yameen, who has declared a state of emergency in the troubled islands.

The detention of Chief Justice Abdulla Saeed and another Supreme Court judge raised the stakes after Mr Yameen refused to comply with an order to release nine political dissidents.

Mr Yameen, 58, has presided over an escalating crackdown on dissent in the upmarket holiday paradise that has left almost all the political opposition jailed since he came to power in 2013.

On Monday, he ordered the arrest of his estranged half-brother, former president Maumoon Abdul Gayoom, 80, who had sided with the opposition.

Troops and special operations units stormed the Supreme Court, the court said on Twitter, as police used pepper spray to disperse hundreds of people gathered outside.

The court's shock move in support of the political dissidents on Thursday also included an order for the government to restore the seats of 12 legislators sacked for defecting from Mr Yameen's party.

The opposition is now the majority - meaning they can potentially impeach the president.Mr Yameen, who has faced several failed attempts to impeach him for alleged corruption, responded by shuttering parliament and announcing a 15-day state of emergency on Monday. - AFP