The Attorney General’s (AG) Office is appealing the Criminal Court’s order, to send the former Maamigili MP Qasim Ibrahim abroad for medical treatment, at the High Court.
The Criminal Court last Friday found opposition Jumhoory Party (JP)’s leader Qasim Ibrahim guilty on bribery charges and sentenced him to three years, two months and 12 days of imprisonment. As a result, Qasim has lost his seat in the parliament.
During Qasim’s trial earlier on Thursday, he collapsed in the courtroom in the middle of the hearing and was rushed to the hospital. He was later sentenced in absentia in the early hours of Friday morning.
The verdict ordered the state to make arrangements for Qasim to be sent abroad to receive the medical treatment he needs immediately.
Doctors who treated the local business tycoon, who is currently under the supervision of Maldives Correctional Services (MCS) at the state-run Indira Gandhi Memorial Hospital (IGMH), have 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 the Maldives.
Whilst due procedure dictates that state-initiated criminal cases should be appealed by the Prosecutor General’s (PG) Office, Mihaaru has found out that the AG Office is pursuing the lower court’s order.
It is not clear whether the High Court has accepted the case or not.
"Preparations" to send Qasim abroad
While the state on Wednesday appealed the Criminal Court’s order to send Qasim abroad, Minister of Home Affairs Azleen Ahmed and the Maldivian ambassador to Japan Mohamed Hussain Shareef had visited the ailing opposition leader at the hospital, on behalf of the president.
During their visit, Qasim had apparently made a “special request” to the president’s envoys. The home minister had not revealed what the request was; he simply said that Qasim had asked to confer a message to President Abdulla Yameen, and that it was not a political message – but rather something a person going through an illness would plea for.
The state’s decision to appeal the Criminal Court’s order to send him abroad comes after JP’s spokesperson Ahmed Sameer had made claims about Qasim’s case-files being “buried somewhere” on the home minister’s desk.
However Azleen had told Mihaaru on Tuesday that the ministry is doing “everything within their power” to send Qasim abroad as soon as possible.
He had further said that the delay in sending the former MP abroad is caused by all the paperwork involved in transferring someone under the supervision of MCS. Also, the approval that is needed from MCS’ board for the transfer has not been obtained yet due to the quorum not being met in board meetings that have been held so far.
Azleen had even said that the ministry was trying to assemble another board meeting on Tuesday night to get the paperwork in line to send Qasim abroad.
The former Maamigili MP was arrested on bribery charges for comments he had made late March, ahead of the initial censure motion against the parliament’s speaker Abdulla Maseeh.
However, Qasim is suffering from a heart disease and his heart condition has been growing worse over the months. His hospitalization on Thursday afternoon after he fainted in court is the third time for the lawmaker to be admitted during his trial, and his doctors have released official documents warning that Qasim is in urgent need of a surgery that is unavailable in the Maldives. In the latest document signed by his doctor last Thursday, the lawmaker was urgently referred to be sent abroad for treatment, warning that further delays may exacerbate his condition to the point of life-threatening.
While Qasim’s family and lawyers have on multiple counts requested permission from authorities to travel abroad to treat his ailment, the state has refused due to his trial. The judiciary had also imposed a travel ban on Qasim on July 16, seizing his passport.
However, with the Criminal Court’s verdict ordering authorities to make arrangements for Qasim to receive treatment abroad, the travel ban has been overturned.