Prosecutor General (PG) Muhthaz Muhsin has withdrawn disobedience to order charges against Home Minister Umar Naseer.
Muhsin had raised charges against Naseer in April for violating Article 8 (a) of the General Laws Act of 1968 when he called on anti-government protesters in January 2012 to storm the military headquarters with 50 ladders.
The clause prohibits speech or writing contravening Islamic tenets.
If found guilty, Naseer would have faced imprisonment, banishment, or house arrest not exceeding six months or a fine not exceeding MVR150 (US$10).
PG Office Spokesperson Adam Arif said charges had been withdrawn in August for further review, and stressed that the PG is authorised to withdraw charges at any point until a sentence is issued. The moves comes after concluding statements had been delivered at the Criminal Court.
Opposition Maldivian Democratic Party MP Imthiyaz Fahmy said the move “is yet another act by a PG backed by the government to deliberately show the people that the government enjoys complete impunity.”
The decision appears to reflect a thawing of a tense relationship between Naseer and President Abdulla Yameen.
Naseer was summoned to court during the acrimonious dissolution of a coalition agreement between Naseer’s Jumhooree Party (JP) and the ruling Progressive Party of the Maldives (PPM).
Four ministers had been appointed to the cabinet on JP slots, but following the split two defected and a further minister was dismissed. Naseer now remains as the sole JP minister in the cabinet.
Naseer initially joined the JP after he lost the PPM primaries to Yameen in 2013. Following this defeat, he publicly alleged widespread vote rigging and accused Yameen of illicit connections with gangs and the illegal drug trade.
Naseer also implicated Yameen in MP Dr Afrasheem Ali’s death, claiming he had witnessed a meeting between Yameen and an individual who was under investigation for Afrasheem’s brutal death.
Naseer has since retracted his statement under oath during a Majlis sitting.
In August, Yameen also reduced the home minister’s powers after Naseer allegedly ordered police officers to investigate Minister of Tourism Ahmed Adeeb – the PPM deputy leader – for alleged unlawful activities.
Criminal Court Chief Judge Abdulla Mohamed took over the case mid-way through the trial from Judge Abdulla Didi, after Naseer requested a change of judge folowing Didi’s refusal to accept a procedural point raised by Naseer.
The police, however, made no move to arrest the minister on his return to the Maldives, and Naseer arrived at the court on June 17 with a bodyguard escort.
Naseer had initially refused to cooperate with the trial, claiming clause Article 8 (a) contradicted the freedom of expression guaranteed by the constitution.
Related to this story