COLOMBO: The Prosecutor General of the Maldives has slapped “terrorism” charge on seven leading personalities in connection with an alleged plot to overthrow the government of President Abdulla Yameen.

On Monday, the Prosecutor General formally charged former President Maumoon Abdul Gayoom; Supreme Court, Chief Justice Abdulla Saeed; fellow Supreme Court judge Ali Hameed; former President Gayoom's lawmaker son and MP, Faris Maumoon; Jumhoory Party (JP) Deputy Leader and MP, Abdulla Riyaz; Ilham Ahmed MP; and Abdulla Sinan MP.

A statement released by the Prosecutor General's office said that the four MPs, who are currently in custody under the State of Emergency, had influenced sitting the two judges and bribed fellow MPs to back their plan to overthrow the government.

The two Supreme Court judges, along with now jailed Chief Judicial Administrator Hassan Saeed, are also facing bribery charges.

Documents seized by the police show that the Supreme Court judges had been beneficiaries of payments to the tune of US$ 2.4 million for buying luxurious houses in Male.

In return, the duo were to issue orders to release nine opposition leaders and re-instate 12 government MPs who had cross the floor. The Supreme Court order of February 1 did so. The ruling was a “premeditated plot to overthrow the government,” the Prosecutor General said.

The Maldives has been embroiled in political turmoil after the Supreme Court of February 1. On February 5, President Abdulla Yameen declared a 15 day State of Emergency after his last ditch attempt to convince the top court to revoke the order of February 1, failed.

Yameen then purged the Supreme Court by arresting two judges and many political leaders. He also got the February 1 order revoked by the remaining three judges.

As the 15-day State of Emergency expired, Yameen got parliament to extend it by another 30 days, even as the opposition protested that the required number of votes (43 out of 85) was not secured. But the government argued that the 12 sacked MPs could not be counted.

In addition to former President Mohamed Nasheed, the other top political leaders named in the now rescinded order included Jumhoory Party (JP) leader Gasim Ibrahim, the Islamic Adhaalath Party (AP) leader Sheikh Imran Abdulla, former Defense Minister Mohamed Nazim, former Vice President Ahmed Adheeb Abdul Ghafoor and former President Gayoom's son Faris Maumoon MP.

Former Prosecutor General Muhthaz Muhsin, Magistrate Ahmed Nihan and Adheeb's uncle, Hamid Ismail, are also in detention.

Former President Nasheed who had been given leave to go to the UK for medical treatment, never came back to complete his 13 year sentence for terrorism. Jumhoory Party leader Gasim Ibrahim, serving a three year sentence for bribery, had also gone abroad on leave for medical treatment, but is yet to return. However both Nasheed and Gasim are remote controlling anti-Yameen movement in the country from abroad.

No Indian Curbs On Visa For Maldivians

The Maldives government on Tuesday refuted local media reports saying that the Indian Embassy has suspended the issue of visas to Maldivians who want to travel to India for purposes other than tourism.

"Following media reports claiming a suspension on issuing visas for Maldivians travelling to India for purposes other than tourism, MFA has received confirmation from the Indian Embassy in Malé that there has been no change in visa policy by the government of India," the Maldivian Ministry of Foreign Affairs tweeted.

It was thought India was annoyed with the Yameen regime for continuing to disregard its advice that it should immediately restore democracy by releasing top opposition leaders as per the February 1 Supreme Court ruling and also lift the State of Emergency.