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Maldives’ Chief Justice, Supreme Court judge arrested

Police stand guard on a main street during a protest by opposition supporters against the government's delay in releasing their jailed leaders. The picture was taken on February 5, 2018 before emergency was declared.

Police stand guard on a main street during a protest by opposition supporters against the government's delay in releasing their jailed leaders. The picture was taken on February 5, 2018 before emergency was declared.   | Photo Credit: Reuters

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The whereabouts of the court’s other two judges were not known

Two Supreme Court judges, including the Chief Justice, were arrested early Tuesday hours after the government declared a state of emergency in the Indian Ocean nation increasingly in turmoil in the days since the court ordered several jailed politicians to be freed.

The 15-day emergency decree issued late Monday gives the government sweeping powers to make arrests, search and seize property and restricts freedom of assembly, officials said.

Soon after the declaration, security forces stormed into the Supreme Court building, where Chief Justice Abdulla Saeed and judge Ali Hamid were arrested. The charges against them have not been specified. The whereabouts of the court’s other two judges were not known on Tuesday morning.

Since the surprise, unanimous ruling last week ordering the release of imprisoned opposition leaders, President Yameen Abdul Gayoom has lashed out at the court, opposition protests have spilled into the streets of the capital, Male, and soldiers in riot gear have stopped lawmakers from meeting in the parliament building.