Prosecutors return charges against MP Mahloof

Prosecutors return charges against MP Mahloof
April 17 17:04 2016

Citing insufficient evidence, the Prosecutor General’s office has declined to prosecute Independent MP Ahmed Mahloof on a charge of assaulting a police officer during an anti-government protest in Malé on March 11.

The police informed Mahloof last week that the PG office had rejected the case when it was forwarded for prosecution.

According to Maldives Police Services, the case has now been filed for further investigation.

Mahloof was arrested from inside the Jalaaludheen mosque just before dusk prayers were called. The police claimed at the time that the MP For Galolhu South assaulted an officer during “a disturbance” that occurred after the protest ended.

He was also accused of attempting to block the arrest of an unnamed individual suspected of assaulting a police officer during the street protest staged by the main opposition Maldivian Democratic Party.

At the time, the police had been blocking the opposition’s weekly anti-corruption walks since early February. Following a crackdown on a three-day protest in November, Home Minister Umar Naseer had declared that the government is banning all street protests and restricting political activities to designated public spaces.

Mahloof is meanwhile standing trial on a charge of obstructing police duty at an opposition protest in March last year.

He was also questioned at the police headquarters in early February after claiming that there are millions of dollars in the first couple’s private bank accounts.

The MP for Galolhu South claimed that the source of the information was a police officer involved in the investigation of the Maldives Marketing and Public Relations Corporation corruption scandal.

The police have also accused the MP of disobeying orders and attempting to “flee” after walking out of a remand hearing on April 3.

The charge of obstructing police duty carries either a fine of no more than MVR12,000 (US$778) or a jail sentence of six months, under the old penal code. It is unclear if provisions in the new penal code would be applied to Mahloof’s case.

If convicted and sentenced to jail, the MP would not lose his seat. A sitting MP would only be stripped of his seat if sentenced to more than one year in prison.

Mahloof has been an outspoken critic of President Abdulla Yameen since his expulsion from the ruling Progressive Party of Maldives in February last year. He has been at the forefront of opposition protests against the imprisonment of opposition leaders, including former President Mohamed Nasheed.