Siyad Gasim pleads not guilty to bribery
It emerged at Sunday’s pre-trial hearing that the prosecution is yet to obtain a crucial piece of evidence against the Villa conglomerate’s managing director.
Ibrahim Siyad Gasim, son of the exiled Jumhooree Party leader, has pleaded not guilty to charges of bribery over an alleged coup attempt by the Supreme Court.
It emerged during Sunday’s pre-trial hearing that the prosecution is yet to obtain a crucial piece of evidence against the Villa conglomerate’s managing director, local media reported.
State prosecutors told the court that a secret document will be submitted to show that Villa made payments for luxury apartments reserved by Supreme Court justices.
It was revealed that the state is yet to obtain the document when Judge Ahmed Hailam ordered the prosecutor to answer the defence’s question about the number of pages.
The PG office was finding it difficult to bring the document from overseas, prosecutor Aishath Reesha said.
Citing violations of the criminal procedures law, defence lawyer Hisaan Hussain promptly asked the judge to dismiss the case as the prosecution admitted to pressing charges without crucial evidence.
But Hailam ordered the prosecution to submit a letter by noon Monday clarifying how the state will obtain the document.
A decision on proceeding to trial will be made thereafter, he said.
The judge also rejected an appeal by the defence to end Siyad’s detention. He has been in custody for more than 100 days.
Some 33 pieces of evidence, including the secret document and two anonymous witnesses, will be presented against Siyad, the prosecutor said.
According to the charge sheet, Siyad used the Villa company to pay US$2.4 million for luxury apartments in Malaysia for jailed Chief Justice Abdulla Saeed and Justice Ali Hameed.
Dismissing the “baseless” bribery charge, Hisaan told the court that Siyad was charged because of his refusal to provide a false statement.
Lawyers also complained about the conditions of his detention. Siyad is kept in isolation and the family is not allowed to send him shirts to attend court, they said.
The family was also told to gift books to the prison library when they tried to send reading material, lawyers said.
Judge Hailam said Siyad must not be kept in solitary confinement and ordered the prosecution to respond to the concerns raised by the defence.
Siyad faces a jail sentence of three years, two months and 12 days if found guilty.
He was arrested during a state of emergency declared in response to the Supreme Court’s February 1 order for the release of key politicians and the reinstatement of opposition lawmakers.
Siyad is among 11 high-profile detainees charged over the alleged conspiracy to remove President Abdulla Yameen from office, a group that includes former president Maumoon Abdul Gayoom, two top judges, the ex-police chief and four lawmakers.
In August last year, Siyad’s father, Gasim Ibrahim, was found guilty of attempted bribery and sentenced to more than three years in prison.
He was later granted medical leave to seek treatment in Singapore, from where he secured a special permit from the German government to travel to Frankfurt, where he continues to reside.