President Ibrahim Mohamed Solih on Wednesday conveyed that his most regretful decision made in his administration thus far is to commute the sentence of Ibrahim Rasheed.
Local media Mihaaru reported that the President said that the decision was taken before due time, and expressed his wish that he reconsidered the decision.
While President Solih spoke about his remorse over freeing a convict without specifying a name, it is speculated to be in reference to Ibrahim Rasheed who was sentenced for 10 years imprisonment on charges of statutory rape.
The decision to free the former Undersecretary of the President’s Office who held the post during the Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP)’s administration in President Mohamed Nasheed’s regime sparked vast criticism against President Solih and the government.
While the sentence for sexual misconduct with a minor is unpardonable, President Solih had commuted the remaining 5 years of Rasheed’s sentence, alleviating all but three days of his time in prison.
The administration faced backlash with many accusing the decision as favouring Rasheed due to his ties to MDP and as a violation of the President’s pledge that equality and justice would be brought in during his tenure.
“It was done a bit too hastily. To free a convict in jail. I did it within the bounds of the law, with the authority vested in me,” said President Solih.
According to the President, he had consulted legal advice from the Attorney General and the Legal Secretary of the President’s Office with the decision.
President Solih conceded that his decision was against the wants of citizens, saying, “That was one thing I wish I had not done. I feel remorse over it.”
In 2012, the then 45-year-old Rasheed was arrested while engaging in sexual misconduct with at the time 17-year-old Zuriyya Abdul Shukoor. He was sentenced on January 1, 2013, and is registered on the child sex offender list.
Rasheed was given his sentence 10 months into his marriage with the girl after she had become of legal age.
The couple remains married having conceived a child, and has custody of another from Rasheed’s previous marriage since his first wife’s passing due to cancer.