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Maldives High Court frees Gayoom, Faris on bail

The former president and his son deny all charges against them.



The Maldives High Court on Sunday ordered former president Maumoon Abdul Gayoom and his son MP Faris Maumoon to be freed on bail, after his lawyers filed a motion to delay his four-month prison sentence for identity fraud.

The court order for Faris, seen by the Maldives Independent, instructs police to release the Dhiggaru MP on bail of MVR40,000 (US$2,553).

Faris was sentenced to four months and 24 days for misusing the ruling party’s flag at an opposition press conference.

He was declared an Amnesty International prisoner of conscience in July, after having spent more than a year behind bars since his arrest in July 2017.

His father, jailed former president Maumoon Abdul Gayoom, was also freed on bail of MVR60,000. The High Court had scheduled a secret appeal hearing for his obstruction of justice conviction.

Faris’ lawyers requested the three-member bench to decide on a motion to delay the execution of his sentence.

Judges Mohamed Faisal, Shujau Usman and Hassan Ali said lawyers would be informed of a decision before the end of the day. They said the court would work to conclude the appeal within the week.

Lawyers submitted 27 motions during the hour-long hearing.

Ibrahim Shameel said the identity fraud charge was discriminatory and the investigation unlawful. Some defence witnesses were not summoned and state witnesses had lied, Shameel alleged.

Procedures were not followed in making witnesses and evidence anonymous and there was no valid proof that Faris had misused the PPM flag.

Majlis (parliament) continued to accept Faris as a ruling party lawmaker despite the party’s claim he had been expelled, he said.

Shameel also said the deputy leader of the Progressive Party of the Maldives, Abdul Raheem, lacked the status to lodge a police complaint against Faris as Raheem had been removed from his position at the time.

The PPM, founded by Gayoom, split during a leadership dispute between him and his half-brother President Abdulla Yameen.

Yameen was last Friday elected as the new PPM president.

Faris is also on trial for terrorism and bribery, while Gayoom faces a terrorism trial for allegedly attempting to overthrow the Yameen government.

Father and son deny all charges against them.

In a separate development the opposition Jumhooree Party tweeted that its self-exiled leader, Gasim Ibrahim, had been freed on bail. Gasim is serving a three-year prison sentence for bribery but has been in Germany since he was granted medical leave last November.

“Our leader Gasim Ibrahim was just now freed on bail. Alhamdhulillahi,” the JP Secretariat tweeted. A document posted on social media said bail was set at MVR70,000.

The ranks of high-profile figures jailed or exiled since Yameen took office now include two former presidents, two Supreme Court justices, two vice presidents, two defence ministers, leaders of opposition parties, lawmakers, and the country’s chief prosecutor.

He was beaten in last Sunday’s presidential election by Ibrahim Mohamed Solih.