May Day protester sentenced to seven years for assaulting policeman

May Day protester sentenced to seven years for assaulting policeman
March 15 14:08 2016

A 50-year-old man has been sentenced to seven years in prison after being found guilty of assaulting a policeman during a mass anti-government protest on May 1 last year.

Delivering the verdict yesterday, Judge Abdul Bari Yousuf said the prosecution’s evidence was sufficient to prove that Mohamed Iqbal hit a fallen police officer on the head with his helmet.

Iqbal was charged with assault along with 12 other protesters. In early February, the criminal court acquitted one of the accused, Usman Hussain, 30, based on lack of evidence.

PG Office Spokesperson Hisham Wajeeh told The Maldives Independent that the criminal court has heard closing arguments in the trials of the other 11 suspects.

“All that is left is the sentencing,” he said.

Iqbal was charged under the Possession of Dangerous Weapons and Sharp Objects Act, Hisham said, noting that the seven-year jail sentence was the minimum term allowed under the law.

No police officer has been convicted of brutality.

In September, the criminal court acquitted a police officer charged with assaulting a protester during a crackdown on a protest march in February 2012, despite video evidence of the incident.

Scores of protesters and two police officers were injured during violent clashes on the night of May 1. The police at the time made public video footage showing protesters tripping and kicking a Specialist Operations officer and one man hitting the policeman over the head with his baton.

Nearly 200 protesters, including leaders of the three allied opposition parties, were arrested on May Day. The 20,000-strong rally was the largest anti-government demonstration in Maldivian history.

Last month, Adhaalath Party leader Sheikh Imran Abdulla was found guilty of terrorism over a speech he gave at the May Day rally and sentenced to 12 years in prison.

Imran was accused of inciting violence with allegations against President Abdulla Yameen and then-Tourism Ahmed Adeeb. The prosecution argued that the president of the religious conservative party must bear responsibility for the violent clashes.