Legal Politics

Gasim unable to return after 20-day medical leave, says family

Jumhooree Party leader Gasim Ibrahim’s family has informed the prisons authority that he cannot return to the Maldives on Tuesday despite the refusal to extend a 20-day medical leave.

“He actually cannot leave. As doctors have not authorised for him to fly, the airlines are refusing to sell tickets for him. We also requested that the MCS medical board review their decision,” defence lawyer Hisaan Hussain told the Maldives Independent.

Ahmed Lugman, the spokesman of the Maldives Correctional Service, confirmed that the medical board rejected the family’s request for an extension on Sunday but declined to comment further.

The 67-year-old business tycoon underwent a successful heart surgery last Wednesday. He was allowed to fly overseas for a 10-day medical leave with a travel document on September 6. The MCS extended the leave by 10 more days when the surgery could not be done within the period.

The prisons authority ordered Gasim to return to serve his jail sentence since the extended period expires tomorrow.

According to Gasim’s lawyers, his doctors have advised against air travel and recommended staying in Singapore until December to recover and complete the treatment. A followup appointment for tests has also been made for next Wednesday.

Gasim was able to leave nearly two weeks after he was found guilty of attempted bribery and sentenced to more than three years in prison.

The midnight verdict was delivered in absentia while Gasim was hospitalised after collapsing inside the courthouse. Citing doctor’s advice, Judge Adam Arif also ordered the authorities to arrange for Gasim to be urgently flown overseas for tests unavailable in the Maldives.

The two-time presidential candidate was prosecuted for offering to grant tickets from the allied opposition parties and help with the re-election campaigns of MPs who vote to impeach the speaker of parliament. The purported bribery offer was made in a speech ahead of the opposition’s failed bid to remove the speaker on March 27.

The MP for Maamigili will also lose his seat unless the conviction is overturned on appeal.

Aside from Gasim, 13 other opposition lawmakers have also been put on trial after the opposition secured the backing of a majority of MPs to begin impeachment proceedings again in early July.

The opposition coalition condemned Gasim’s jailing as “part of a relentless campaign of persecution” after it secured a majority of parliament with defections from the ruling party.

The midnight verdict “erases any pretence of judicial impartiality,” observed US ambassador Atul Keshap.


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