Criminal Court today afforded both Opposition Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) deputy Parliamentary group leader and Thoddoo constituency MP Ali Waheed and Galolhu-south constituency MP Ahmed Mahloof the right to an attorney.
Both MPs have been charged with obstruction of police duty.
During the hearing today Sate Attorney detailed that the Mahloof and Ali Waheed are being charged for removing the police barricades near Muliaage on March 25, 2010 and obstructing police personnel.
Both MPs are being charged under Article 75 of the Police Act which is impeding the duty of a police officer.
In response to the charges, Mahloof while explaining that though Waheed and he had belonged to the same political party earlier, now they had chosen different paths following political rifts and divergences in opinion, requested the Judge whether the hearings could be conducted separately.
However, the presiding Judge dismissed the request pointing out that the State wished to prosecute both the accused under one charge. The Judge further warned against bringing politics into the trial.
Mahloof stressed that as the alleged crime had taken place a while back the incident had faded from memory. He added that if he had in fact committed a crime he would face it without hesitation, but if he had not would strive to prove his innocence.
Ali Waheed in response said that the charges were unclear and stressed that he has never confronted the Police with a weapon. He also inquired whether anymore persons were being charged for the alleged offence.
State Attorney explained that the charges do not include any weapons and although mention that some others had been involved could not gather enough evidence for a prosecution apart from Waheed and Mahloof.
After the explanation, Waheed was still adamant that the charges were unclear and expressed his wish to continue in the presence of a lawyer.
Judge Abdull Didi, during the hearing today asked the State the reasons behind the delay in prosecuting the case.
State Attorney detailed that Mahloof and Ali Waheed had been prosecuted for the same offence earlier. However, the charges were withdrawn by the Prosecutor General (PG) under the authority to maintain political balance.
Speaking to reporters after today’s hearing, Mahloof told Haveeru that his case was investigated during former President Mohamed Nasheed’s administration and that it indicated Nasheed’s efforts to impede the freedom of speech and expression.
Ali Waheed stressed that the charges were politically motivated and pointed out that Nasheed had been prosecuted less than 24 hours after he had warned to remove the PG from the post.