Police have sent the case involving senior officials of opposition-aligned private broadcaster Raajje Television for prosecution today (December 1), after concluding the Supreme Court-ordered investigation into a report aired by the station which criticised the Supreme Court and the judiciary.
The police media official confirmed to Minivan News that the case had been sent for prosecution. Furthermore, the official also confirmed that they had requested the Prosecutor General press charges against both the News Head of Raajje Television Ibrahim ‘Aswad’ Waheed and the Deputy Chief Executive Officer of the Station Abdulla Yameen Rasheed.
Last October, the Supreme Court ordered the Police and the Maldives Broadcasting Commission (MBC) to investigate a report aired by the station earlier in the month.
According to local media reports, the report titled ‘how trials were held by people of Sodom’ compared the inconsistent decisions made by the Maldivian courts of law – specifically the Supreme Court – with the bogus trial practice of Sodom and Gomorrah – a biblical city mentioned in the Quran, the Hebrew Bible and the New Testament.
The report also claimed that the Maldivian judiciary had fallen into the same state as that of what was the state of trials in Sodom, citing the sex-tape scandal of the Supreme Court Judge Ali Hameed earlier this year.
Shortly after the summons, Raajje TV informed the police that it would not be cooperating with the investigation arguing that it was the mandate of the MBC to investigate.
“Even the Police admitted that this matter had to be looked into by the MBC. However they said that due to the Supreme Court order, they are obliged to continue with the investigation,” said the Deputy CEO of Raajje Television Yameen.
The station also contested that the Supreme Court’s order to investigate the matter had been an unlawful one, and therefore it was void from the outset. However, the police proceeded with the investigation.
Under the ‘Regulation for Protecting the Courtesy of Courts’, any disrespectful remarks made against a court of law either by speech, writing or by any other means is a criminal offence.
Speaking to local media regarding the Supreme Court’s order Aswad said that it took a great effort to ensure that defamation was decriminalised during the regime of Maldives former thirty-year autocratic ruler Maumoon Abdul Gayoom.
“The police investigation into this case could mean journalists would again go to jail for what they write. This again, is another new threat to free media in the Maldives,” Aswad Waheed told local newspaper Haveeru earlier.
The Maldives Media Council (MMC) also echoed similar concerns as that of Aswad, citing that the case could negatively impact the freedom of media in the country.
“The Maldives Media Council Act states that it is the media council that should investigate issues concerning press freedom and take measures. And a police investigation of such a case would be an obstruction of the press freedom established in the Maldives as well as an act that would instil fear in the hearts of journalists,” read a statement released by the council following the police summons.
Minivan News was unable to determine the specifics of the criminal charges that Aswad and Yameen may face as the media official of the Prosecutor General’s Office was not responding to calls at time of press.