The criminal court has lifted restrictive conditions imposed on Jumhooree Party leader Gasim Ibrahim when he was released from police custody last week.
The move comes after Gasim’s lawyers accused a police officer of falsely claiming in court that a case against the opposition lawmaker had not been sent to the Prosecutor General’s office.
The police officer was responding to a question from the judge at a remand hearing last Wednesday, after which Gasim was granted a conditional release.
The Prosecutor General’s office later informed Gasim’s lawyers that a case forwarded by the police a day before the remand hearing was sent back due to lack of evidence.
According to a court document handed to Gasim today, the police have told the criminal court that the false statement was made due to “an information error” and apologised for the mistake.
The contentious conditions prevented the opposition alliance from using the JP’s headquarters in Malé for gatherings and rallies. Gasim was ordered to refrain both from speaking in a manner that sows discord or incites unrest and allowing others to use his home or property to deliver such speeches.
Other conditions included refraining from “holding meetings with people who sow discord and strife in society,” cooperating with the police investigation, seeking police permission before leaving the country, and not committing any act to influence witnesses or eliminate evidence.
He was also ordered not to make any statements that could cause disquiet or misgivings among the public towards the heads of the executive, legislature and judiciary.
Gasim’s lawyers have stressed that he was unfairly detained for a total of 26 days.
The business tycoon was first arrested in early April but the high court ordered his release after six days.
The appellate court ruled that the arrest was illegal as it violated the parliamentary privileges law, which requires the Prosecutor General to seek a warrant if a sitting MP is to be detained for a criminal investigation.
A day after his release, Gasim was put on trial on charges of bribery, influencing the official conduct of a public official and intimidating and improperly influencing a voter.
He was charged for declaring during a speech at an opposition rally that the allied parties would grant tickets for the 2019 parliamentary elections to MPs who vote to impeach Speaker Abdulla Maseeh Mohamed.
A week after the trial began, Gasim was arrested at midnight from his home in Malé on fresh charges of bribery and attempting to overthrow the government.
The criminal court remanded the lawmaker to police custody for 15 days and later extended the remand detention by four days. Gasim’s lawyers told the press after the second remand hearing that the police did not submit new evidence apart from the same secret intelligence report that was used to seek the arrest warrant.
In a statement Monday night, the lawyers noted that the accusations made during the second arrest have been proven to be baseless as the PG office has declined to prosecute.
“Therefore, honourable Gasim Ibrahim believes that he was detained in a jail cell for a total of 26 days and placed under investigation for political purposes,” they said.
Gasim’s first arrest in early April 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.
The opposition alliance meanwhile condemned the “fabricated charges and illegal arrests of opposition leaders”, calling the moves “panic measures” in response to the opposition’s bid to gain a parliamentary majority.