The Maldives' top judge received death threats before his arrest in a regime crackdown, his lawyer said Thursday ahead of a United Nations Security Council hearing on the island nation's political crisis.
Chief Justice Abdulla Saeed was warned he would be "cut into pieces" if he did not overturn a court order quashing convictions against high-profile political dissidents, his lawyer Hisaan Hussain said.
Saeed was arrested as President Abdulla Yameen declared a state of emergency in the honeymoon islands after refusing to obey the court order.
The top judge was accused of accepting bribes to impeach the regime leader, who has jailed most of his political opponents.
"The Chief Justice was forcefully dragged on the floor from his chambers by uniformed security personnel in riot gear after he told them they were in contempt of court," Hussain said. He did not say who issued the threats.
Saeed is among two top justices detained in a sweeping crackdown by Yameen, who has doubled down since the Supreme Court cleared his political rival Mohamed Nasheed, among other regime critics, of terrorism charges.
The remaining three judges restored the conviction Tuesday "in light of the concerns raised by the President", after Yameen declared the state of emergency and accused the justices of trying to overthrow him.
The international community has censured the president for imposing special emergency provisions that allow the military to detain suspects for long periods without charge.
The UN has urged Yameen to lift the state of emergency, and will discuss the crisis gripping the Indian Ocean archipelago in a closed-door meeting at the Security Council on Thursday.
"The Maldives have seen in recent years attacks on political opponents, on journalists, on civil society and human right defenders, and what is happening now is tantamount to an all-out assault on democracy," UN rights chief Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein said in a statement Wednesday.