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MP Mahloof released to house arrest

The criminal court placed the opposition spokesman under house arrest for the duration of an upcoming trial on terrorism charges raised for protesting outside the high-security Maafushi jail.



MP Ahmed Mahloof has been transferred to house arrest after more than a month in police custody.

At the independent lawmaker’s third remand hearing Wednesday, the criminal court placed him under house arrest for the duration of an upcoming trial on a terrorism charge raised for protesting outside the high-security Maafushi jail.

Mahloof, who served a prison sentence last year, was initially accused of obstruction of police duty for distributing masks during an opposition protest last month, a charge that carries a jail sentence of four months and 24 days.

He is also facing two other charges over anti-government tweets, his lawyers said.

The transfer to house arrest came after the Parliamentarians for Global Action condemned Mahloof’s detention “on the basis of frivolous and politically-motivated criminal charges.”

If he is prosecuted under anti-terrorism laws, the PGA warned that it “would have no hesitation in calling for the International Community to swiftly and unequivocally respond with proportional and appropriate counter-measures under International Law to such a manifest breach of fundamental freedoms and human rights in the Maldives.”

Mahloof was arrested while leading an opposition protest in the capital on February 22. With constitutional due process rights suspended during the 45-day state of emergency, he was not taken before a judge within 24 hours.

Weeks later, the criminal court approved a 13-day remand period, which was extended by five more days last Friday.

The opposition disputes the legality of arrests and detention procedures during the state of emergency.

Mahloof’s release prompted calls from former foreign minister Dunya Maumoon for the immediate transfer home of her father, former president Maumoon Abdul Gayoom, who is among 11 high-profile detainees charged with terrorism and bribery over an alleged conspiracy to topple the government.