Judge Mohamed Haleem Ali of the Civil Court has revealed that the ruling to bar all the employees of the now defunct daily newspaper “Haveeru” and “Haveeru Online”, from working at any media outlet in the country for a period of two years, had been issued under the influence of the arrested Supreme Court Judge Ali Hameed.
Judge Mohamed Haleem Ali stated that Hameed, along with the arrested Chief Justice Abdulla Saeed, had influenced several civil lawsuits including the ownership dispute of the Maldives' oldest newspaper 'Haveeru'.
According to Haleem, he was asked to be present at the Supreme Court along with the documents of the dispute case on the request of Judge Hameed. Haleem further noted that he was accompanied by the Civil Court’s Chief Judge at the time.
Haleem revealed that Hameed had altered the adjudication of the case to involve the employees of the media group, and ordered Haleem to rule accordingly.
Haveeru was shut down in March 2016 after its three new shareholders sued the paper’s founder, Dr Mohamed Zahir Hussain, for a share of the assets and profits for the past 35 years.
The lawsuit followed a controversial High Court ruling last year that split the paper’s ownership four ways. The appellate court awarded three former editorial staff a controlling stake based on a copy of a 1983 agreement.
After the lawsuit was filed in February, Haleem ordered the paper on April 2 to involve Farooq Hassan, Ibrahim Rasheed Moosa, and Mohamed Naeem in its management, including a role in making editorial decisions and financial transactions.
However, in lieu of involving the new shareholders, the Haveeru Media Group – owned by Zahir’s three children – closed the paper and took its website offline.
In the verdict, the judge ordered the Haveeru Media Group and relevant state authorities to transfer the newspaper, its online version, archive, its printing press, and other business interests related to the brand to the majority shareholders.
He also ordered the registrar of companies to change the name of Haveeru Media Group within seven days.
The judge had ordered Zahir to audit Haveeru and to offer the other three owners their share. Zahir was also ordered to revive and continue the newspaper, website, and printing press in accordance with the wishes of the majority shareholders.
Whilst Haveeru still remains defunct, the former staff of the media group had come together and commenced another newspaper, Mihaaru. The journalists and employees of Mihaaru now recognise Haveeru as a bygone. None of them are now employed by the Haveeru Media Group.