The lawyer defending 18 opposition activists arrested in Kolamaafushi island of Gaafu Alifu atoll has asked the court to review their remand sentence.
Mahfooz Saeed, who previously said the remand sentence was passed in the absence of a lawyer, revealed in a tweet on Sunday that he has asked the court to arrange for the activists to be moved to house arrest or released with stipulations.
“I have asked the Vilingilli magistrate court to review the remand sentence it passed on 18 individuals arrested in Kolamaafushi. I have asked the court to have them released, even if it is with conditions”, the tweet says.
The activists were arrested on 30th August on allegations of creating chaos in the island and destroying property.
While the individuals were arrested for vandalism, they are being tried under terrorism laws in a pre-trial hearings carried out in secret. These laws are obscure and critics have said that they are deliberately used to target dissent.
The magistrate court said in a statement following the a 15-day remand sentence to keep them in custody, that due to the violent nature of the accusation against them, they pose a threat to the community and capacity to influence the trial.
These individuals are all members of the Maldivian Democratic Party who were drawing up banners and hanging flags ahead of presidential candidate Ibrahim Mohamed Solih’s campaign visit to the island.
RaajjeMV understands that supporters of the ruling party had obstructed their efforts and begun tearing down the flags that were hung up and when the quarrel escalated, they told the opposition supporters that they would be ‘expelled from the island’.
The Maldivian Democratic Party and its coalition of partners have reiterated their accusation that the ruling party is abusing power and deliberately targeting their members and supporters to silence dissent.