A drug trafficker from the Maldives, who was convicted to 25 years in jail for cannabis trafficking, has been released from prison after serving just a few months. Mohammed Rishwan, from Lh.Hinnavaru of central Maldives, was arrested in May 2019 with cannabis in his possession and was subsequently charged with drug trafficking in July of that year. In November 2022, he was sentenced to 25 years in prison and fined up to 100,000 Maldivian Rufiyaa by the Criminal Court of the Maldives.
However, Rishwan was released in February under an order from President Solih, which commuted his sentence to just five days. This move by the Maldivian government marks the first time in the country's history that someone serving a 25-year prison sentence has been pardoned within just three months of being incarcerated.
It is alleged that Rishwan, who comes from the same island as President Solih, was released in exchange for his family's support of the MDP's primary election in January. Rishwan's family is known to have hundreds of members and is a major force in the island.
The Maldives has a history of presidents commuting the sentences of serious offenders with political connections, despite laws prohibiting the direct pardon of individuals involved in drug trafficking, terrorism, and sexual offenses. President Solih, in particular, has been criticized for commuting sentences in exchange for political support.
This is not the first time that the Maldivian government has faced accusations of corruption in relation to prisoner releases. Former President Nasheed has previously accused the government of accepting bribes to free convicts.
Rishwan's release has raised questions about the government's commitment to combating drug trafficking and organized crime in the Maldives, and has led to calls for greater transparency and accountability in the criminal justice system.