Maldivian authorities have charged former strongman Maumoon Abdul Gayoom and several senior judges with “terrorism” for attempting to topple President Abdulla Yameen, the government said Wednesday.
Eighty-year-old Gayoom and ten others — including the sacked chief justice Abdulla Saeed — were charged under state of emergency laws imposed in the paradise tourist island last month.
Gayoom has been held since February 5 as the state of emergency was declared by Yameen, deepening the political crisis in the Indian Ocean archipelago.
The country’s criminal court Wednesday ordered Gayoom be remanded in custody until the conclusion of his trial, although it was not immediately clear when the case would commence.
Yameen had resorted to emergency laws to prevent himself from being impeached by the national parliament after he lost his majority following a Supreme Court ruling on February 1.
The state of emergency is due to lapse on Thursday unless Yameen extends it further.
The Prosecutor General’s office said Wednesday that Gayoom, who ruled the country for 30 years until 2008, had been charged with attempting an “act of terrorism and obstruction of justice”.
Gayoom’s legislator son Faris Maumoon and son-in-law were also charged, along with another judge.
The 11 charged are accused of trying to topple Yameen who came to power following a controversial election run-off in November 2013 when he narrowly defeated former president Mohamed Nasheed.
Yameen’s emergency move curtailed the powers of the judiciary and the legislature, after the country’s Supreme Court ruled to quash criminal convictions against high profile opposition politicians.
The ruling would have allowed Nasheed — who lives in exile in London — to return to the archipelago and challenge Yameen for the presidency later this year.
Yameen refused to carry out the court order and instead arrested the chief justice and another Supreme Court judge.
The remaining judges revoked the earlier decision to reinstate the MPs who had been sacked for defecting to the opposition while Yameen also stripped parliament of its power to impeach him.
He has resisted international calls to end the state of emergency, release all political prisoners and restore the rule of law.
The crackdown has dented the nation’s image as a popular tourist destination, which remains vital to its economy.