A court in the Maldives sentenced two Supreme Court justices on Thursday to more than 19 months in prison on charges of influencing lower court decisions.
The Criminal Court sentenced Chief Justice Abdulla Saeed and Justice Ali Hameed to one year, seven months and six days each in prison. On Tuesday, Saeed was sentenced to nearly five months in a separate case involving accusations that he prevented the Supreme Court from receiving government letters.
Both judges were arrested in February under a state of emergency during a political crisis which followed a Supreme Court decision to release and retry a number of President Yameen Abdul Gayoom's political opponents. The opponents had been jailed after trials criticized for alleged violations of due process.
Both judges also face terrorism charges for allegedly conspiring against the government which carry a longer maximum sentence.
After the arrest of their two colleagues, the remaining three judges on the Supreme Court nullified the order to release Yameen's opponents.
The order included the release of the country's first president elected in a free election 10 years ago, Mohamed Nasheed. He was sentenced to 13 years in prison on terrorism charges and now lives in Britain after receiving asylum there while on leave for medical treatment.
Nasheed's release would have made him eligible to contest the presidential election later this year, in a formidable challenge to Yameen, who is now set to run for re-election virtually unopposed. All of his potential challengers are either in prison or in exile.
Maldives embraced multiparty democracy in 2008 after decades of autocratic rule but has lost much of its democratic gains since Yameen was elected.
Former 30-year ruler and Yameen's half-brother, Maumoon Abdul Gayoom, who has defected to the opposition camp, has also been detained and charged with terrorism. Yameen's former vice-president, Ahmed Adeeb, two former defense ministers, a prosecutor general and several lawmakers are among those jailed during Yameen's tenure.