Ruling Progressive Party of Maldives (PPM)’s parliamentary group leader Ahmed Nihan on Saturday warned charges of defamation against a journalist of local television channel Raajje TV over a question he put forward regarding the corruption scandal of Maldives Marketing and Public Relations Corporation (MMPRC).
The MMPRC corruption case had involved the embezzlement of MVR 1.2 billion worth of state funds, received as acquisition costs via island leases for resort development, through the corporation.
Speaking at a press conference held Saturday by ruling Progressive Party of Maldives (PPM) and government coalition partner Maldives Development Alliance (MDA)’s joint parliamentary group, Raajje’s TV Azmoon Ahmed had said in his inquiry that there are talks that the islands were leased to all lawmakers except a certain few of PPM, saying that the islands being leased to members was the main obligatory reason for lawmakers to stand behind President Abdulla Yameen Abdul Gayoom.
In response to Azmoon’s inquiry, Villimale MP Nihan warned that should his inquiry be false, he should “be prepared to face the Defamation Act”. Nihan said that was also the answer to Azmoon’s question.
“I’m certain we would have to go to that extent in this issue. I’m saying this as I have no doubt that there weren’t any islands or resorts given to any of us except to those involved in business,” said Nihan.
“We will meet on this case again in the courtroom.”
Meanwhile, lawmaker of Kelaa constituency Ali Arif requested Azmoon to provide the names of the lawmakers he accused in his inquiry.
“We’re ready to be held accountable under such circumstances. You can say anything as an accusation. We would very much like for you to point out the people accused. Then we can give a full response,” said Arif.
Concluding the press conference, MP Nihan said that PPM’s parliamentary group will clear up Azmoon’s question.
“If there’s anything that can’t be cleared up, we will take the measures to solve it.”
Under the Defamation and Freedom of Speech Act, a journalist of Raajje TV was already sentenced to pay a hefty penalty for defamation earlier this month. It was the first case of defamation charges against a journalist and media outlet to be investigated by the Broadcasting Commission after the Act was implemented.