The Criminal Court has sentenced eight men charged with the vandalism of private TV station Villa TV (VTV) to seven years imprisonment.
The court ruled that the witnesses produced by the state told the court they saw the eight men throw stones at VTV security personnel and Maldives National Defence Force (MNDF) officials outside the building and that the testimony was enough to find the accused guilty of the crime.
The judge also said the court was produced with video footage and pictures of the events that day.
The Prosecutor General (PG) had pressed charges against Ismail Hammaadh of Maduvvari in Raa Atoll, Ahmed Hameeed and Hussein Hameed of Alifushi in Raa Atoll, Ahmed Naeem of Henveiru Ladhumaageaage, Hussein Shifau Jameel of Maafannu Nooruzeyru, Aanim Hassan of Ferishoo in North Ali Atoll, Ahmed Muheen of Galolhu Haalam and Mohamed Hameed for vandalising VTV.
The attack on the television station occurred during protests against the re-opening of the People’s Majlis on March 19. The building, as well as the soldiers guarding its entrance on Sosun Magu, came under attack as police tear gas forced the protesters south, past the building from the police barricades nearer to the Majlis building.
President Dr Mohamed Waheed Hassan Manik delivered his opening address to parliament amid widespread anti-government demonstrations, after the Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) took to the street to prevent him from giving the speech. Violent clashes between police and protesters sparked major unrest in the capital Male’.
Villa TV is owned by resort tycoon, Jumhoree Party (JP) leader and MP Gasim ‘Buruma’ Ibrahim, who is in a coalition with Dr Waheed’s government. Gasim is also a member of the Judicial Services Commission (JSC), the body charged with oversight of the judiciary.