Speaking in support of political ideology not a crime: Qasim’s lawyers

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

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

Lawyers of Jumhoory Party (JP)’s leader Qasim Ibrahim claimed that Qasim had only expressed support for a political ideology with the statements he made in an opposition rally regarding the motion of no confidence sought by the opposition against Parliament Speaker Abdulla Maseeh, which is not a criminal offence.

The prosecution is pressing three charges against Qasim regarding the statement he gave at the opposition rally promising additional allowances to all lawmakers that vote in favour of the no confidence motion.

Qasim’s lawyer Hisaan Hussain said that it is a common practice to give speeches to find support for a certain political ideology, referring to past speeches about the Maldives’ national healthcare insurance scheme “Aasandha” and the national fishermen’s scheme “Beyas Nubeyas” as some examples. Hence, she claimed that if such an action is defined as an offence, no one can find support for any political beliefs.

Questioning how Qasim’s statement can influence votes according to his charge, Hisaan noted that Qasim spoke on behalf of his political position and that it is a right guaranteed in the Constitution.

Stressing that her client spoke of offering tickets for lawmakers to run for another term, Hisaan again highlighted that it is not an offence. She further said that the prosecution needs to be clear whom Qasim had bribed as they allege.

Moreover, the lawyer noted that Qasim expressed his opinion under freedom of expression and, if Qasim needs to be charged for that, it should be included in the Defamation and Freedom of Speech Act.

Furthermore, Qasim’s lawyers questioned the validity of the audio analysis report done on his statement, which was made under a court order warning legal action would be taken unless the analysis was done. However, lawyers pointed out that Qasim had been using his basic right to remain silent, which can only be narrowed under an Act which does not exist at this time.

However, the judges said that as the report was done by a court order, it should be further reviewed in an appeal court.

Before concluding the hearing, the judges requested to present a copy of JP’s decision in giving out tickets for lawmakers to run for another term, and to present similar political statements of other politicians and how they are treated in other countries.

The Judges Bench comprising Chief Judge Abdul Bari Yoosuf, Judge Ahmed Shakeel and Judge Adam Arif concluded that another hearing of this case will be held next week.

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