PGO decides against charging opposition protesters

The Prosecutor General's Office has decided against pressing charges against protestors arrested during an opposition rally calling for the release of their jailed leader.

Five people belonging to opposing Progressive Party of Maldives (PPM) and Peoples' National Congress (PNC) were arrested on November 30 during a rally organized by the opposition coalition. Although all five individuals were released by the police later the same night, the authority sought charges against four of them.

However, the Prosecutor General's Office sent back the cases without pursuing charges due to lack of substantial evidence against the individuals.

Speaking to AVAS, Prosecutor General Hussain Shameem said the amount of damage caused to the public, property and state resources are taken into account when pressing charges in such cases. No such evidence was submitted against the arrested protesters by the police, Shameem revealed. Therefore, there are no grounds to press charges against the four individuals, he added.

"When we press charges, we are utilizing state funds to prosecute the accused. Therefore, it is our duty to ensure that the charges being pressed are concrete. Our review in this regard found there is not enough evidence to press charges and carry this forward. No state property were damaged. No harm was caused to a citizen. I am not saying their actions are not unlawful. We are sending back this case due to lack of evidence," the recently appointed PG said.

The police forwarded the names of the four individuals to the Prosecutor General's Office seeking charges for 'attempting to create unrest, disrupting traffic and obstruction to law enforcement'.

The leader of PPM-PNC coalition, former President Abdulla Yameen Abdul Gayyoom was convicted on November 28 for money laundering. He was sentenced to five years in prison, and ordered to pay the state an amount of US$ 5 million within six months. The opposition coalition has vowed to continue protesting his arrest until he is released.