Youth minister acquitted over ‘false reporting’ tweet
The former lawmaker was put on trial over a tweet alleging culpability over custodial deaths.
Former MP Ahmed Mahloof was acquitted Wednesday on a charge of false reporting to law enforcement over a tweet alleging culpability over custodial deaths.
The newly-appointed minister could have faced a jail sentence of nearly five months if found guilty.
During the trial earlier this year, the former lawmaker insisted he was expressing concern over prison deaths and that his intention was not to inform any authority.
“Inmates are not dying in Maafushi jail, they’re being killed. They’re deprived of proper treatment and killed. When 10 inmates die in a year that’s a serious problem,” Mahloof tweeted in January.
The commissioner of prisons and the prison’s director must bear responsibility, he added.
Mahloof was also put on trial on a charge of obstruction of justice for distributing masks at an opposition protest.
The criminal court previously dismissed terrorism charges raised for protesting outside the Maafushi prison. He was also charged with false reporting over a tweet about an alleged plan to kill jailed former vice president Ahmed Adeeb.
Earlier this month, the High Court ruled the opposition lawmaker’s arrest during February’s state of emergency was unlawful.
Mahloof was kept in police custody for more than a month before he was transferred to house arrest in early April.
He was among several politicians who were freed in the aftermath of former president Abdulla Yameen’s election defeat in September.
After two terms in parliament, the MP for Galolhu North resigned Saturday to join President Ibrahim Mohamed Solih’s cabinet as minister of youth, sports and community empowerment.
Mahloof, who was at the forefront of opposition demonstrations, served a prison sentence for police obstruction last year.
In April this year, the Parliamentarians for Global Action condemned Mahloof’s detention “on the basis of frivolous and politically-motivated criminal charges.” With constitutional due process rights suspended during the 45-day state of emergency, he was not taken before a judge within 24 hours.