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High Court overturns May Day protester’s jail sentence

Ibrahim Ibadh was jailed for seven years over the assault of a policeman.



The High Court freed Monday a protester from the 2015 May Day march who was sentenced to seven years in prison over the assault of a policeman. 

Ibrahim Ibadh was found guilty of hitting Sergeant Abdul Rahman Hussain with a baton but the High Court ruled he was falsely charged and overturned the criminal court’s verdict.

He was charged with assault using a weapon but convicted of aiding and abetting assault using a dangerous weapon.

The appeal of Ibrahim Rasheed, who was also sentenced on the same charge, was dismissed Monday when he failed to attend a hearing. He is under house arrest due to ill health.

Aside from Rasheed and one other inmate, other May Day protesters sentenced over the assault of the policeman have been released on parole. Lawyer Nazim Sattar, who represents the May Day prisoners, told the Maldives Independent the two remaining will seek a pardon when president-elect Ibrahim Mohamed Solih assumes office next week.

The sentences handed to the May Day protesters were criticised at the time as unfair and disproportionate.

“The detainees were denied the lowest sentence as first-time offenders,” the main opposition Maldivian Democratic Party had said, describing the sentences “as an escalation in a sweeping assault on human rights defenders and political activists in the country.”

The 25,000-strong rally was the largest anti-government demonstration in Maldivian history.

Nearly 200 people were detained after scores of protesters and two police officers were injured during violent clashes.

The police were accused of beating protesters during and after their arrest. After complaints were lodged, the Human Rights Commission of Maldives launched investigations into three cases of apparent brutality and custodial abuse.

But a single police officer has yet to be convicted of brutality.

In September 2015, 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.

Adhaalath Party leader Sheikh Imran Abdulla was controversially found guilty of terrorism in February 2016 over a speech he gave at the May Day rally and sentenced to 12 years in prison.