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MCS request police to bring back ‘fugitive’ JP leader

Fathmath Shaahunaz
04 October 2017, MVT 14:00
Opposition Jumhoory Party (JP) leader Qasim Ibrahim being taken to Velana International Airport (VIA) by Maldives Correctional Service (MCS) officers. He was given permission to depart to Singapore on Wednesday evening.
Fathmath Shaahunaz
04 October 2017, MVT 14:00

Maldives Correctional Service (MCS) have requested the police’s aid to bring opposition Jumhoory Party (JP)’s leader Qasim Ibrahim back to the Maldives after his third medical leave extension expired.

The former Maamigili MP, who is convicted for three-years, two-months and 12-days on bribery charges, is currently in Singapore being treated for a cardiac problem.

MCS declared Qasim Ibrahim a fugitive of the state on Tuesday, as he has not returned despite his final leave extension expiring last Monday.

Maldives Police Service’s spokesperson Ahmed Shifan confirmed that MCS have approached the police for help, and announced that the police are currently preparing to carry out the operation as per procedure.

Rumours of a police team being dispatched to apprehend Qasim in Singapore also cropped up on social media late Tuesday. However, Shifan declined to comment on the speculations.

Meanwhile, Qasim Ibrahim’s party and lawyers have protested his status as a “fugitive”, proclaiming that Qasim had attempted to return to the Maldives twice as per Correctional Service’s orders. However, they claim that the authorities at Singapore Airlines barred him from boarding the plan on both counts “due to his critical health condition, as per the doctor’s recommendation”.

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.

The third extension of seven-days came after his lawyers appealed to MCS to extend Qasim’s medical leave until he is cleared for travel.

However, MCS have declared that they will not extend his leave any further and his lawyers have filed a case at the Civil Court, contesting MCS’ refusal to grant him the medical leave that he needs.

The lawyers also revealed that Qasim has another test scheduled for October 19 at Mount Elizabeth Hospital in Singapore.

The former lawmaker was sentenced for a bribery conviction in late August for comments he had made at an opposition rally held ahead of the opposition-lobbied censure motion against the parliament’s speaker last March. During his initial verdict hearing, Qasim had fainted in the court and was sentenced at a later hearing in absentia. Despite his verdict ordering authorities to make arrangements for the opposition leader to be sent abroad for treatment immediately, he was hospitalised in the state-run Indira Gandhi Memorial Hospital (IGMH) for several days before MCS had made arrangements for him to leave.

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