The criminal court has delayed sentencing for the fourth time a group of women arrested from a protest at the airport.
Some 14 women and one man were charged with disobeying orders for protesting at a restricted zone. The group had held posters calling for former President Mohamed Nasheed’s release at the Ibrahim Nasir International Airport nearly a year ago.
The protest was coordinated by the women’s wing of the main opposition Maldivian Democratic Party.
Among those arrested were Malé City deputy-mayor Shifa Mohamed and MDP women’s wing vice-president Shaneez ‘Thanie’ Saeed.
Today’s hearing was reportedly cancelled because one of the women involved in the case was abroad, said Mariyam Zubair, another defendant in the case.
Local media have previously reported that the delay in issuing a verdict was a caused by the enactment of the new penal code. Judges are required by the code to be more lenient.
Disobeying orders previously carried a jail term of up to six months or a fine of MVR3000 (US$194). An opposition MP was fined on the same charge earlier this week instead of being imprisoned.
The court has imposed a travel ban on all of the defendants.
The police also arrested MDP Vice President Mohamed Shifaz outside the courtroom today on a charge of disobeying police orders.
The postponement of the sentence comes amidst continuing international concern over a crackdown on human rights in the Maldives.
An overwhelming majority of the European Union parliament in December passed a resolution calling for targeted sanctions against officials responsible for human rights abuses.
The Commonwealth has called for political dialogue.