Maldives declares Jumhoory Party leader a fugitive

Qasim pictured leaving the criminal Court PHOTO:Nishan Ali/Mihaaru

Qasim pictured leaving the criminal Court PHOTO:Nishan Ali/Mihaaru

Since Jumhoory Party (JP)’s leader Qasim Ibrahim has exhausted all the leave extensions that have been granted to him, he will now be considered a fugitive of the state, Maldives Correctional Service (MCS) declared on Tuesday.

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

MCS on Monday told Qasim’s family that he will not be granted any more leave extensions. His last leave extension expired on Monday.

A spokesperson from MCS said that the last week-long extension was granted to him for his family to make the necessary arrangements to bring him back.

The next course of action will be to send Maldivian police officers to apprehend him, MCS spokesperson said.

“If a convicted felon does not return within the duration that he was granted, he will be considered a fugitive. We will then ask the police to bring them back,” the spokesperson explained.

According to the former Maamigili MP’s lawyers, he had, indeed, gone to the airport on Monday to return to the Maldives. However, he was not allowed to board the plane as he was deemed unfit for travel. This is the second time that Qasim was not allowed on-board because of his condition.

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

Qasim’s doctors revealed that he suffers from coronary artery disease which causes the main coronary arteries of the heart to narrow, and if the narrowing becomes critical, the patient can develop chest pains and shortness of breath among other symptoms.

His doctors have recommended to keep him under observation before and after his heart surgery, and advised him not to fly out for another three months while he is recovering.

Qasim 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.

An MCS spokesperson had later revealed that the former Maamigili MP was supposed to return on Monday, September 25 – before his leave officially expired.

After Qasim was not allowed to board the plane to return to Maldives, MCS had given an additional week to make the arrangements for him to return; this leave expired on Monday.

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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