An Islamic preacher has dropped defamation charges against journalists for their coverage of his alleged involvement in a Hajj scam.
Sheikh Nasrulla Musthafa took five journalists from Mihaaru and news group Vmedia to court last week, claiming they falsely reported that he failed to make pilgrimage arrangements for four people who travelled to Mecca in August.
Musthafa told the Maldives Independent Wednesday that he dropped charges against all Mihaaru journalists as the newspaper had published an article with his version of events.
“I don’t want to cause a loss to anyone. I just wanted to reveal the truth,” he said. “I want journalists to be honourable and reputable.”
He says he plans to drop charges against Vmedia as soon as it publishes his side of the story.
Musthafa had demanded MVR 7 million (US$453,500) in damages from each journalist in a dispute resolution hearing at the civil court last Tuesday. Prior to the hearing, he withdrew charges against one Mihaaru journalist upon the reporter’s request.
He denies taking money from the four pilgrims, maintaining he had made arrangements for their accommodation and pilgrimage to Mecca. He also denies operating without a license, saying the group travelled on a special visa issued by the Saudi government which allows people to attend Hajj outside the official quota.
He was arrested in November, and has been charged with forging an official document and operating without a license. He is currently awaiting trial.