Leader of Jumhoory Party and famous local tycoon Qasim Ibrahim was arrested under a court order late Thursday.
The order issued by the Criminal Court states that the lawmaker of Maamigili constituency is arrested for the investigation into his alleged attempt to bribe parliamentarians in connection with the motion of no confidence that was recently taken against parliamentary speaker Abdulla Maseeh.
The accusations against Qasim Ibrahim listed in the court order include:
- Bribery attempt to turn the parliament’s vote of no confidence against the speaker in Qasim’s favour.
- Working to influence the motion of no confidence currently being sought against the deputy parliamentary speaker.
- Attempting to influence the armed forces of the nation.
- Working to illicitly overturn the lawfully elected government of the Maldives.
The court order reads that Qasim is being taken under arrest to prevent him from tampering or doing away with any evidence pertaining to these charges. It adds that his free movements among society are being viewed as potentially threatening to the safety and security of the community.
Police had previously summoned Qasim to headquarters twice to interrogate him regarding his public statement to provide special allowances to lawmakers that vote in favour of passing the motion of no confidence against Speaker Maseeh. They had taken his photograph and audio samples for the investigation before forwarding the case to the Prosecutor General’s Office to press charges against Qasim. However, the PG Office has returned the case to Police upon the latter’s request, saying that the case has additional aspects to be completed.
Speaking at an opposition rally held by the joint opposition coalition last Sunday, Qasim had urged lawmakers to vote against Speaker Maseeh, promising to provide electoral tickets and back the opposition parties to enable their lawmakers to run for another term. According to Qasim, these parties include Jumhoory Party, religiously conservative Adhaalath Party, main opposition Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) and lawmakers of ruling Progressive Party of Maldives (PPM) that vote against Maseeh.
Qasim has since repeatedly denied the bribery allegations against him, remarking that as he was referring to the lawmakers of these allied parties, his statement can be interpreted in various ways.
He also said during a press conference on Tuesday that rumours had reached him that he would be jailed for three years under these allegations. Noting that he has faced heart problems as a result of being jailed previously, Qasim said that anything might happen to him if he is jailed at this age. Qasim Ibrahim is now over 65 years old and still undergoing treatment for heart problems which surfaced during his imprisonment 14 years back in 2004.