The Criminal Court on Sunday granted lawmaker of Dhiggaru constituency, Faris Maumoon, another opportunity to prepare his defence for his trial on identity theft over misusing the flag and logo of ruling Progressive Party of Maldives (PPM).
He was granted the extra opportunity since he was unable to prepare his defence as the lawmaker is currently detained in another case. He was arrested last week for allegedly bribing lawmakers to gather signatures to file the opposition lobbied motion of no confidence against the parliament speaker. The Criminal Court has ordered his detention until the end of his trial.
In Sunday’s preliminary hearing of his identity theft trial, MP Faris’ lawyer Maumoon Hameed stated that the legal team was unable to prepare the defence as MP Faris was not allowed to meet his lawyers since his arrest last week.
The lawyer accused Police of purposefully obstructing the trial, noting that Police questioned MP Faris earlier on Sunday morning about his bribery acusations.
Upon Maumoon’s request for another opportunity, Judge Ibrahim Ali presiding over the case granted the request as the prosecution did not object. However, the judge warned that this will be the last chance for Faris to prepare his defence.
The next hearing on Faris’ misuse of PPM’s flag and logo is scheduled for July 31.
The judge assured that the court will order Police to make arrangements for MP Faris to meet his lawyers while in custody.
Lawyer Maumoon further raised concerns that MP Faris’ current detention is in violation of the Prisons and Parole Act, claiming that the court order to remand him until the end of his bribery trial is unlawful.
However, Judge Ibrahim Ali stated that as the bribery accusations and ensuing detention are unrelated to the case at hand, MP Faris must appeal his remand separately if unsatisfied with the court’s verdict.
Faris’ father, former President Maumoon Abdul Gayoom, also notably attended the trial hearing on Sunday to observe the proceedings, marking the first time for the former president to enter the courtroom in recent years. He was accompanied by his daughter Yumna Maumoon and some aides.
MP Faris faces a maximum sentence of nine months and 18 days in jail if proven guilty. While the verdict would not cost him his seat in parliament, he would be unable to attend sittings until the end of his sentence.