Journalist fined for defaming Ghassan

The former editor of weekly magazine Sandhaanu has been ordered to pay Rf5000 (US$389)for defaming Mohamed Ghassan Maumoon, the former president’s son.

Ghassan took Abdulla ‘Fahala’ Saeed to the civil court seeking Rf3.375 million (US$262,600) over an article Fahala had written in the 118th edition of Sandhaanu magazine.

Ghassan claimed he lost support in the parliamentary election because of rumours about him published in an article written by Fahala.

Fahala claimed that the Rf5000 fine was “an injustice” and announced he intended to take the case to high court.

”The judge did not even look at the article I wrote, I was sentenced based on what Ghassan had said,” Fahala claimed.

He insisted that he did not defame Ghassan “but ‘wrote it as it was a rumor spreading.”

”In that article I mentioned that it was a rumour. People were speaking about it everywhere in the Maldives,” he said.

Ghassan is currently in India and did not respond to Minivan News’ request for comment.

However spokesman for the former president, Mohamed Hussain ‘Mundhu’ Shareef, said the judgement was fair and Fahala was free to take the case to the high court.

“[The court] has proved the rumors people spread about former president Maumoon Abdul Gayoom and his family were lies,” Mundhu said.

People who committed “ugly crimes” while working for the government should be “kicked out”, Mundhu said, “if the government does not want to lose respect in front of the people.”

President of the Maldives Journalism Association (MJA) Ahmed ‘Hiriga’ Zahir said the case would not affect journalism in the Maldives.

”Fining for defamation is a punishment practiced everywhere in the world. Journalists should be careful about it,” Hiriga said.

Journalists had a responsibility “to write true information about people”, he said.