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Court hears witnesses in Gasim’s bribery trial



Police forensic analysts testified Wednesday in the bribery trial of opposition Jumhooree Party leader Gasim Ibrahim.

Speaking to reporters after the closed-door hearing, Gasim’s lawyer Hisaan Hussain said the two forensic officers testified to establish the lawmaker’s identity in a video of a speech at an opposition rally.

The business tycoon is being prosecuted for declaring that the allied parties would grant tickets for the 2019 parliamentary polls and help with the re-election campaigns of MPs who vote to impeach Speaker Abdulla Maseeh Mohamed. 

“They shared their findings with the court. The prosecutors and we were given the opportunity to speak about it,” Hisaan said.

A hearing has been scheduled for next week to hear defence witnesses, she added.

The Prosecutor General’s office filed the bribery charges for the second time after the criminal court threw out the case when state prosecutors failed to show up at court last month.

The trial resumed in late July but was stalled for weeks after the 65-year-old was hospitalised twice.

The JP leader is among 14 opposition lawmakers facing legal action after the four-party opposition coalition secured a majority in the parliament with defections from the ruling party.

Gasim was charged with bribery, influencing the official conduct of a public official and intimidating and improperly influencing a voter. The lawmaker was detained for 26 days in the wake of the opposition’s failed bid to remove Maseeh in late March.

Gasim’s arrest prompted the EU and the embassies of Canada, Norway, Switzerland and the US to urge the government to respect fundamental freedoms and to allow opposition politicians “to conduct their activities without fear of intimidation or incarceration”.

The government, however, dismissed allegations of harassing and intimidating opposition leaders, insisting that the police and judiciary are independent.