Police: Detained Maldives supreme court judges took bribes

MALE, Maldives (AP) — Two supreme court justices who have been arrested amid a deep political crisis in the Maldives took millions of dollars in bribes in return for issuing a ruling ordering the release of imprisoned politicians that sparked the crisis, the country’s acting police chief said Wednesday.

Police have “proof of these transactions” serving as evidence against Chief justice Abdulla Saeed and Justice Ali Hameed, said Abdulla Nawaz, the acting police chief.

The two justices of the five-member court were arrested on Tuesday along with former president Maumoon Abdul Gayoom, who Nawaz accused of bribing lawmakers “to oust the government and also creating dissent within armed forces, encouraging armed forces to rebel against the government.”

Nawaz’s leveled the accusations shortly after the U.N. human rights chief called the declaration of a state of emergency declared for the Maldives by President Yameen Abdul Gayoom and its suspension of constitutional guarantees an “all-out assault on democracy.”

Political turmoil has swept the Maldives since a surprise court the ruling last week that ordered the release of the jailed opposition leaders, including many Gayoom’s main political rivals.

U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra’ad al-Hussein said the restrictions imposed on Monday “create a dangerous concentration of power in the hands of the president.”

The Maldives became a multiparty democracy 10 years ago but lost much of those gains after Yameen was elected in 2013.