Legal Politics

MCS allows 5 more days for JP leader to return from medical leave

Qasim Ibrahim (R) with his lawyers at the VIP lounge in Velana International Airport (VIA) before departing to Singapore.

Maldives Correctional Service (MCS) on Tuesday night granted additional five days for opposition Jumhoory Party (JP)’s leader Qasim Ibrahim to return to the Maldives.

However, MCS maintained that it will still “take action” against the opposition leader for not coming back to the Maldives before his leave expired, despite granting a few more days to the opposition leader’s medical leave.

Qasim, who was given a three-year, two-months and 12-day sentence for a bribery conviction, is currently in Singapore being treated for a serious cardiac problem.

He was initially given 10-days medical leave on September 6; however, after Qasim’s family consulted with his doctors, they had appealed for a leave extension of three months, till December 2017. MCS had refused at first, but after his lawyers filed the official medical documents, including letters from Qasim’s physician which explicitly stated that he needed to remain hospitalised for further treatments, MCS conceded and granted another 10 days.

Whilst Qasim’s original 10-day leave expired on September 16, the second extension expired on Tuesday, September 26.

An MCS spokesperson had later revealed that the former Maamigili MP was supposed to return on Monday, September 25 – before his leave officially expired.

JP sources on Monday confirmed that Qasim had gone to the airport to fly back to the Maldives before his leave expired. However, the authorities at Singapore Airlines did not allow him to board the plane “due to his critical health condition, as per the doctor’s recommendation”, the party’s sources said.

The five-day extension comes after his lawyers appealed to MCS to extend Qasim’s medical leave until he is cleared for travel.

The former Maamigili MP’s lawyers have even filed a case at the Civil Court, contesting MCS’ refusal to grant him the medical leave that he needs.

His lawyers claimed that MCS was denying his fundamental right to seek medical treatment by dictating when he should return to the Maldives to serve his sentence. They also criticised MCS for handling Qasim’s medical leave as another administrative detail while his physical well-being is in jeopardy.

According to Qasim’s doctors, he suffers from coronary artery disease which causes the main coronary arteries of the heart to narrow, and if the narrowing becomes critical, the patient can develop chest pains and shortness of breath among other symptoms.

His doctors have recommended, in writing, several times to keep Qasim under observation before and after his heart surgery, which he underwent last Wednesday, and advised him not to fly out for another three months while he is recovering.

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