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Opposition lawmakers block parliament, demand jailed MP's release

Mohamed Visham
19 July 2016, MVT 12:58
Some opposition lawmakers impede the parliament sitting on Tuesday demanding the immediate release of MP Ahmed Mahloof.
Mohamed Visham
19 July 2016, MVT 12:58

There was drama in parliament on Tuesday after opposition lawmakers protested the jailing of MP Ahmed Mahloof.

The independent MP for South Galolhu who is also the spokesperson for the newly formed Maldives United Opposition (MOU) was sentenced to four months and 24 days in prison after the criminal court found him guilty of of obstructing police officers during an opposition protest in April.

Opposition lawmakers began calling for Mahloof's immediate release and the resignation of president Abdulla Yameen Abdul Gayoom as soon as Tuesday's sitting was brought into session.

The sitting is expected to resume later Tuesday afternoon.

Mihaaru has been unable to obtain details of the verdict as the sentencing hearing was held behind closed doors.

However, Mahloof’s lawyer Abdulla Haseen had said the defence had urged the court for a fine instead of a prison sentence. But the prosecution had insisted on jail term, Haseen added.

The charge of obstructing police duty carries either a fine of no more than MVR12,000 or a jail sentence of six months, under the old penal code.

MP Mahloof reacts as he is led away by police after the criminal court sentenced him to four months in jail on Monday. MIHAARU PHOTO/MOHAMED SHARUHAAN

Hours before the verdict, Mahloof had said he expected a prison sentence but insisted he remains steadfast in his efforts against the government.

Speaking to reporters outside the court Mahloof had said he expected a jail sentence which he alleged was on orders of president Abdulla Yameen Abdul Gayoom.

However, Mahloof who has been an outspoken critic of President Yameen since his expulsion from the ruling Progressive Party of Maldives (PPM) last year insisted that he would continue his efforts against the government despite the verdict.

“I would of course be sad if I have to be away from my family. But that would not shake my resolve,” he added.

Mahloof joins the ranks of high-profile politicians and state officials jailed since March last year, which now include a former president, two former defence ministers, a ruling party MP, an opposition party leader, a former vice president, a senior military officer, a former chief prosecutor, and a magistrate.

Mahloof would not however lose his parliamentary seat as a sitting MP would only be stripped of his seat if sentenced to more than one year in prison.

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