The Criminal Court on Monday sentenced the cameraman of local television channel Raajje TV to pay a fine of MVR 3,000 after he was proven guilty of obstructing police.
Adam Zareer is convicted for pushing police barricades in an attempt to enter a restricted area during a protest in March 2015. Though his offence carries a jail term in addition to a penalty, the court narrowed his sentence down to a fine of MVR 3,000 as this is Zareer’s first proven criminal offence.
Judge Adam Arif presiding over the case stated that Zareer was proven guilty based on the testimonies of two police witnesses and video footage of the incident. He also noted that the defendant did not deny the validity of the footage.
Meanwhile, three journalists testified that Zareer had not pushed police barricades as the charges state. However, the judge ruled that their statements do not negate the state’s testimonies as journalists’ priority during the rally was to cover events and, thus, their claims of Zareer’s activities cannot be perceived as entirely sound.
Judge Arif went on to highlight that as Police had not arrested journalists of other media despite their coverage of the rally, the arrest cannot be perceived as a targeted attack on a certain media outlet.
Following the reading of the verdict, the judge declared that there is no obstruction to free media but advised Zareer to keep to the framework of the law in his duties.
In addition to Zareer, the Criminal Court also passed verdicts on two other journalists of Raajje TV recently, sentencing them to pay over MVR 28,000 each under the Penal Code for obstructing police.
Moreover, Raajje TV’s CEO Hussain Fiyaz is also currently undergoing a separate criminal trial for allegedly striking a policeman.