The lawyers of opposition Jumhoory Party (JP)’s leader Qasim Ibrahim on Thursday announced that they will be appealing his bribery conviction at the High Court.
The Criminal Court on August 25 slapped the former Maamigili lawmaker with a sentence of three years, two months and 12 days for comments he made at a JP rally on March 26, where he had promised allowances and “all that can be done” to re-elect the parliamentarians who vote in favour of the opposition-lobbied censure motion against parliament speaker Abdulla Maseeh.
The opposition leader, who had been suffering from cardiac problems throughout his trial, had lost his seat in the parliament with the hefty sentence.
According to former deputy prosecutor general and member of Qasim’s current legal team, Hussain Shameem, the lawyers are making the preparations to file the case on Sunday.
“We’re currently gathering all the paperwork and preparing all the necessary documents to appeal Qasim’s sentence. We’re trying to file the case on Sunday,” Shameem said.
Defendants are required to file an appeal within 10 days of receiving the verdict from a lower court.
However, as Qasim’s verdict came a few days before a week-long public holiday in the Maldives, the 10 day appeal period has not expired yet.
Despite the verdict ordering authorities to make immediate arrangements for the 67-year-old to leave the country for medical treatment, the Maldives Correctional Service (MCS) had only authorised his leave on Wednesday evening.
Since Qasim’s sentence, he had been hospitalised at the state-run Indira Gandhi Memorial Hospital (IGMH) in capital Male, awaiting his leave to be cleared.
The local business tycoon finally flew to Singapore on a 10 day medical leave late on Wednesday night.
Throughout the opposition leader’s prolonged trial, he had to be rushed to the hospital a total of three times due to cardiac irregularities. Doctors who treated Qasim at IGMH had also advised the authorities to take him abroad as soon as possible as Qasim is in dire need of a heart surgery that is unavailable in Maldives.
Qasim was transferred to house arrest on Tuesday – a few days after Minister of Home Affairs Azleen Ahmed, and the Maldivian ambassador to Japan Mohamed Hussain Shareef visited him at the hospital, on behalf of president Abdulla Yameen.
Home minister Azleen then claimed that the government was doing “everything within their power” to send Qasim abroad as soon as possible.
Meanwhile, JP’s spokesperson Ahmed Sameer, as well as Qasim’s lawyers, have consistently maintained that his heart condition is serious and that it is imperative for him to get the treatment as soon as possible as it could be life-threatening.
The Criminal Court had initially imposed a travel ban on Qasim, but later overturned the travel ban in its verdict and ordered Qasim to be sent abroad.
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