A magistrate court in southern Laamu Atoll has released a young man arrested on charges of assault on the condition that he goes fishing to earn an income and attends prayers at the island mosque.
Ali Thasmeen, 19 years, was arrested on the island of Gan for his alleged involvement in a gang fight. The Gan magistrate court released him on Thursday with a set of conditions.
“He signed an agreement. It says he was released from police custody with conditions,” a court official confirmed. These include staying home between 10pm and 7am, and attending religious sermons at the mosque.
The same court had conditioned the release of a 22-year-old man in October on cutting and maintaining his hair “nice and short.”
Critics say the conditions are illegal.
“I don’t know whether or not a court can order a person to pray. I suppose that could come under the Islamic Shariah. But a court cannot order a person to go fishing for sure,” said opposition MP Fayyaz Ismail.
The Maldivian Democratic Party lawmaker himself was remanded for more than two weeks when he refused the criminal court’s conditions to avoid protests last year. The high court later ruled the condition to be unconstitutional.
Lawyer Hussain Shameem, who contested the protest ban, says the appellate court ruling means that courts can only set conditions on the release of individuals under investigation to ensure that they turn up at court.
The criminal court last month released a group of people arrested from the opposition’s weekly prayer gathering on the condition they stay away from Malé’s main mosque, the Islamic Center.
The opposition has meanwhile criticised the courts’ practice of remanding individuals arrested for political activities for long periods of time, despite laws saying that courts can only hold an individual in remand if there is reason to believe they may tamper with evidence, fail to attend court proceedings or abscond from trial.