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Qasim held "hostage' by govt, say opposition lawmakers

Aishath Mihna Nasih
09 April 2017, MVT 13:46
Qasim being taken back to Dhoonidhoo where he is kept in Police custody after his remand trial PHOTO:Hussain Waheed/Mihaaru
Aishath Mihna Nasih
09 April 2017, MVT 13:46

Opposition lawmakers proclaim that the arrested leader of Jumhoory Party (JP) and lawmaker of Maamigili constituency Qasim Ibrahim is being held hostage and threatened to charge everyone involved in his arrest with terrorism.

The Criminal Court on Friday added six-days to Qasim’s remand after Police arrested him on Thursday night. He is detained in Dhoonidhoo Detention Centre in Kaafu atoll Dhoonidhoo island.

Opposition lawmakers assert that Qasim was arrested against the Constitution and the privileges accorded to lawmakers. Hence, they have urged authorities to release Qasim immediately.

“Qasim was arrested against Subject 13 (a) of the Parliamentary Privileges Act. He wasn’t arrested during an act of crime. It was done by Maldives Police Service under a court order. So if this is a mistake, Qasim should be granted immediate release,” proclaimed Deputy Leader of Jumhoory Party, the former Police Commissioner and current lawmaker of Kinbidhoo constituency, Abdulla Riyaz.

The act referred by the opposition states that unless a lawmaker is found in the act of  a criminal offence, he or she may only be arrested for a criminal charge by an order of a superior court or a court above it. Moreover, such a request may only be made by the Prosecutor General (PG) if a lawmaker's arrest is required by any investigative forces.

Despite the statement of the Parliamentary Privileges Act, Qasim was arrested as per the request of Maldives Police Service. Police have refused to respond to questions regarding Qasim's arrest.

Police spokesperson stated that as the investigation is currently ongoing, they do not wish to give any comments on Qasim’s case.

It is noteworthy that Qasim was arrested after Police took back the case which was forwarded to the Prosecutor General.

Former Speaker of the parliament and current lawmaker of North Henveiru constituency Abdulla Shahid said that Qasim is being held hostage by government authorities.

Speaking on local television channel Raajje TV, Shahid proclaimed that it is unlawful to obstruct lawmakers from undertaking their obligations.

Lawmaker of Laamu Gan constituency Fayyaz Ismail added that those involved in Qasim’s arrest will be charged with terrorism which would serve them jail sentences of not less than 10 years.

Stressing that if any court order hinders or violates the rights of an individual or nation, it is the duty of Police to appeal it, Riyaz urged the police not to heed any such verdicts.

“The police force doesn’t only serve the government,” said Riyaz.

The accusations against Qasim Ibrahim listed in the court order include bribery attempt to turn the parliament’s vote of no confidence against the speaker in Qasim’s favour, and working to influence the motion of no confidence currently being sought against the deputy parliamentary speaker. In addition, the order included attempt to influence the armed forces of the nation and working to illicitly overturn the lawfully elected government of the Maldives.

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