MCS seek police help to bring back Jumhoory Party leader

JP leader Qasim Ibrahim exits the Criminal Court after a hearing. PHOTO: HUSSAIN WAHEED/MIHAARU

JP leader Qasim Ibrahim exits the Criminal Court after a hearing. PHOTO: HUSSAIN WAHEED/MIHAARU

Maldives Correctional Service (MCS) have decided to seek the police’s help to bring opposition Jumhoory Party (JP)’s leader Qasim Ibrahim back to the Maldives.

According to an MCS spokesperson, the opposition leader will not be granted any more leave extensions after the last seven-day extension, which was granted to him last week, expires on Monday.

MCS had previously warned of action if Qasim does not return during the prescribed time; however it did not reveal the course of action that would be pursued.

This is the first time since its warning that a course of action has been indicated. However, Mihaaru is aware that a formal request has not been filed at the police yet

Qasim, who was given a three-year, two-months and 12-day sentence for a bribery conviction, is currently in Singapore being treated for a serious cardiac problem.

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.

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

According to JP sources, Qasim had gone to the airport to fly back to the Maldives before his last leave expired. However, the authorities at Singapore Airlines did not allow him to board the plane “due to his critical health condition, as per the doctor’s recommendation”, the party’s sources said.

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

The former Maamigili MP’s lawyers have even filed a case at the Civil Court, contesting MCS’ refusal to grant him the medical leave that he needs.

Lawyers accuse MCS of ‘contempt of court’

Qasim' s lawyers former Deputy Prosecutor General Hussain Shameem (L) and lawyer Hisaan Hussain (R) speaking at a press conference held at Jumhoory Party's main party hub 'Kunooz' MIHAARU PHOTO / NISHAN ALI

Qasim’ s lawyers former Deputy Prosecutor General Hussain Shameem (L) and lawyer Hisaan Hussain (R) speaking at a press conference held at Jumhoory Party’s main party hub ‘Kunooz’ MIHAARU PHOTO / NISHAN ALI

Meanwhile, Qasim’s lawyers on Thursday claimed that MCS was breaching its protocol by denying Qasim his fundamental right to seek proper medical attention and could be held for contempt of court.

As Qasim’s verdict clearly ordered MCS to make arrangements for Qasim to be sent abroad as soon as possible for his medical treatment, MCS is clearly violating the court’s order, Lawyer Hisaan Hussain claimed.

She further said that a peaceful solution could not be reached through arbitration, and that Attorney General Mohamed Anil is disregarding his duty to ensure court orders are upheld.

“The Attorney General did not want to resolve the issues we have via the Civil Court’s Dispute Resolution Division. This is a huge concern,” Hisaan said. She revealed that the state wanted to take the matter to the court.

Qasim’s lawyer and former deputy Prosecutor General Hussain Shameem said that MCS is conveniently ignoring the part of his verdict which orders them to send him abroad for treatment.

“The verdict clearly says to allow [Qasim] his medical treatment, and to follow whichever course of treatment his doctor has advised him to undergo. This isn’t a verdict that allows the Correctional Service to act however they want,” Shameem said.

While Qasim’s lawyer Hisaan highlighted the Attorney General’s disregard for the case, Shameem claimed that Commissioner of Prisons Ahmed Shihaan should be held accountable for the miscarriage of justice.

“This goes against the Penal Code – disregarding a court order is contempt of court. And we have enough grounds to accuse Shihaan of contempt of court,” Shameem said.

Hisaan revealed that they had sent 84 letters to various institutions, appealing his leave extension as the doctor had prescribed – but to no avail.

Qasim’s Verdict

According to Qasim’s doctors, 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, in writing, several times to keep Qasim under observation before and after his heart surgery, which he underwent last Wednesday, and advised him not to fly out for another three months while he is recovering.

The former lawmaker was convicted of bribery 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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