Activist ‘incited hatred’ with tweet likening police to tigers

Activist ‘incited hatred’ with tweet likening police to tigers
August 16 14:01 2016

Opposition activist Shammoon ‘Lucas’ Jaleel has incited hatred against the police by likening officers to a streak of tigers, police said on Monday.

The 27-year-old was arrested on July 30, on charges of sowing discord and inciting hatred against the security forces on social media. The criminal court extended his remand for 15 days for a second time on Sunday.

His mobile phone has also been confiscated.

When Lucas contested his remand at the high court on Monday, police submitted a tweet and a retweet from Lucas’ twitter handle, including a July 29 tweet, which said: “Some animals were sent to earth in the shape of humans.”

It was accompanied by two photos, one of a dozen police officers confiscating tables at a tea party organised by the opposition in July, and the second of a streak of tigers playing in the snow.

The second tweet was a retweet which allegedly read that the police must be lynched.

Lawyers representing Lucas meanwhile submitted 80 tweets by others that they claimed were more inflammatory, and asked why the police had failed to arrest the individuals behind the tweets.

Ahmed Sinaz, the lead defence counsel, also argued that Lucas must be freed as inciting hatred is not a crime in the Maldives

“At court, prosecutors claimed Lucas was arrested under Article 533 of the penal code, which relates to obstructing law enforcement. But the police say that he was arrested on charges of inciting hate against the security forces. It appears that prosecutors are only trying to fit the charge under the penal code,” he said.

“We highlighted that the police was a service. People are allowed to criticise services, it isn’t a crime. Lucas could not be arrested for something that is not seen as a crime by the criminal justice system.”

He added: “[The police] did very emotionally note that these were people who incite hatred and should be in jail.”

The court hasn’t set a date for the next hearing.

Lucas was in high spirits as he was lead into and out of the court.

He called out to his supporters that he was ready to stay detained “until the end of the regime” and challenged courts to “extend his remand until both the Islamic and Gregorian calendars are exhausted”.

An outspoken supporter of the opposition Maldivian Democratic Party, Lucas has over 14,000 followers on Twitter.

Former President Mohamed Nasheed had weighed in his support at the time of his detention: “I call for the release of social media activist and writer @lucasjalyl and others arrested today.”

Two opposition MPs are also under investigation over tweets that police said encouraged violence against police officers, a claim they denied.