Two former Dhivehi Rayyithunge Party (DRP) MPs Ali Waheed and Ahmed Mahloof are facing criminal charges for allegedly obstructing police duty during an opposition protest that took place in 2010.
Prosecutor General (PG) claimed that the two MPs entered a restricted area cordoned off by police during the night of March 25, 2010, near the former presidential residence of Muleaage, and had showed disobedience to the police officers in the area.
Both Mahloof and Waheed are facing charges under the article 75 of the Maldives Police Services Act.
During the first hearing held yesterday, after the charges were read to the defendant MPs, Mahloof requested the judge carry out the trial separately stating that although he and Waheed were once in the same party, times had changed and the pair now followed different political beliefs and parties.
However, presiding judge Abdulla Didi declined Mahloof’s request stating that the state had levied one charge against both him and his parliamentary colleague, and said that differing political beliefs was immaterial to the case that was being heard.
Meanwhile, Waheed stated that he was unclear about the charges pressed against him. He added that he was not someone who would ever confront police with arms and questioned whether it was only him and Mahloof that were there during the protests.
Responding to Waheed’s claims, the state attorney stated that the charges did not mention that Waheed had attempted to confront the police with arms, and also mentioned that others were involved.
The state prosecutors said they had decided to prosecute Waheed and Mahloof because they had obtained evidence supporting the charges.
Both Mahloof and Waheed requested to proceed with the trial after seeking legal counsel.
During today’s hearing, the judge questioned the state as to why the case had been delayed for such a long period. The state responded that the case had been earlier submitted but later withdrawn because the PG observed that there was a “lack of fairness” in sending cases to court.
Adjourning the session, Judge Abdulla stated that a date for the next hearing would be announced later and that the case would be scheduled at the earliest available date.
This is the second time the case has been forwarded to trial.
Earlier in November 2010 the case was sent to trial but the PG withdrew the matter, stating that police had failed to submit a case that involved then ruling Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) activists entering the Civil Services Commission (CSC) office and harassing their staff.
The former government had criticised the PG following their actions, and claimed that the PG was politically-aligned instead of being impartial. In their defence, the PG stated that police had been sending cases involving [former] opposition politicians and while failing to send cases of MDP activists, which meant that the government was pressing charges that were politically motivated.
An official from the PG told local media today that the case had been re-sent along with the case involving MDP activists harassing CSC employees.
With the trial to proceed, the now-opposition MDP has raised concerns stating that the case had lost its meaning because of the delay in prosecution.
In a statement, the MDP claimed that “Without considering the legal principle ‘justice delayed is justice denied’, we would like to bring to notice that the state is prosecuting meaningless cases while more important cases remain unprosecuted, while others have already been dismissed,” read the statement.
MDP described the prosecution as a “series of attempts to hurt” its members after the MDP government was toppled on February 7.
Waheed, speaking to local media after the hearing, stated that he would not be threatened by such cases that the current government was pressing against him, and said he would “face the charges with courage”.
He also asked the PG to prosecute him for even “slightest” wrong he had committed.
“This prosecution is not just a prosecution levied against me, this is a prosecution that is levied against the 50,000 members of MDP and the majority of the citizens of Thoddu constituency,” he said.
Waheed further said that despite the efforts by the government to pressure him, he would not leave the MDP to support an illegitimate government.
Both Waheed and Mahloof were elected to parliament under the ticket of DRP.
However, following the split of the DRP into two factions, both Waheed and Mahloof chose to leave their former party and head to two different directions.
Mahloof joined the newly formed Progressive Party of Maldives (PPM), the party formed by the DRP members who supported former President Gayoom and opposed the DRP’s leader, MP Ahmed Thasmeen Ali.
Waheed defected to MDP and was later elected as the deputy parliamentary group leader of the party.
MDP Spokesperson Imthiyaz Fahmy was not responding at time of press.