Jailed opposition lawmaker petitions UN rights panel over conviction

MP Mahloof reacts as he is led away by police after the criminal court sentenced him to four months in jail on Monday. MIHAARU PHOTO/MOHAMED SHARUHAAN

MP Mahloof reacts as he is led away by police after the criminal court sentenced him to four months in jail on Monday. MIHAARU PHOTO/MOHAMED SHARUHAAN

Jailed opposition lawmaker Ahmed Mahloof has sought United Nations intervention over his controversial conviction and subsequent jailing last month.

Mahloof is serving 10 months and 24 days over two seperate counts of impeding police officers.

The independent MP for South Galolhu who is also the spokesperson for the newly formed Maldives United Opposition (MOU) was first sentenced to four months and 24 days in prison after the criminal court found him guilty of of obstructing police officers during an opposition protest in April.

A week later he received a further six months for pushing police barricades and entering a restricted area during a protest in March last year.

The case was filed at the UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention (UNWGAD) jointly by his spouse, lawyer and local rights group Maldivian Democracy Network (MDN).

Mahloof has appealed both verdicts at the High Court which is yet to commence proceedings.

Former President Mohamed Nashee, former Defence Minister Mohamed Nazim and religously conservative Adhaalath Party leader Sheikh Imran Abdulla who were all handed lengthy jail terms last year, have previously petitioned the UN WGAD, a specialised agency comprised of five independent experts.

The group had ruled in September last year that former Nasheed’s imprisonment on a terrorism charge was illegal and politically motivated.

The government, however, rejected the non-binding opinion.

Mahloof joins the ranks of high-profile politicians and state officials jailed since March last year, which now include a former president, two former defence ministers, a ruling party MP, an opposition party leader, a former vice president, a senior military officer, a former chief prosecutor, and a magistrate.

Mahloof would not however lose his parliamentary seat as a sitting MP would only be stripped of his seat if sentenced to more than one year in prison.

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