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Verdict delayed for Faris Maumoon to present defence

The lawmaker was charged with identity fraud for using the flag and logo of the ruling party at a press conference.



The criminal court on Thursday delayed closing arguments in the identity fraud trial of MP Faris Maumoon to allow the defence to present documentary evidence.

The lawmaker son of former president Maumoon Abdul Gayoom was charged for using the flag and logo of the ruling Progressive Party of Maldives at a press conference last year after he was expelled from it.

He has denied the charge, insisting he was representing his father, who was stripped of his role as the party’s elected leader in a power struggle with half-brother President Abdulla Yameen. 

The court was scheduled to hear closing arguments and expected to reach a verdict Thursday. But Faris’ lawyer noted at the start of the hearing that the court has not deliberated on 27 pieces of documentary evidence submitted by the defence.

When the prosecution did not object, Judge Ibrahim Ali postponed closing arguments for next Monday.

The documentary evidence included letters sent by the Elections Commission regarding the dismissal of several lawmakers from PPM as well as documents showing that Faris was recognised as a PPM MP in parliament despite his expulsion.

The defence also produced campaign posters used by MPs Ahmed Shiyam and Ahmed Thoriq. Both ran as independents in 2014 but had indicated that they were PPM members. 

If found guilty, Faris faces a jail sentence of up to five months. He is also on trial for separate charges of bribery and terrorism over an alleged coup plot.

The lawmaker has been detained since July last year when he led the opposition’s push to impeach the parliament speaker.

His father, who ruled the Maldives for three decades, was convicted earlier this month on obstruction of justice charges and handed a 19-month prison sentence.