Ahmed Nazim, a former MP with the ruling Progressive Party of the Maldives who was allowed to travel to Singapore on medical leave from prison, has left the country and traveled to the United Kingdom, The Maldives Independent understands.
Nazim’s departure comes after the home ministry rejected a request to extend his medical leave.
The ex-MP, a former close associate of President Abdulla Yameen, was handed a 25-year jail sentence on corruption charges last April.
He traveled to Singapore on December 10 for a spinal surgery. He left this week, according to credible sources.
The Prosecutor General’s Office has meanwhile withdrawn three remaining cases of corruption against Nazim. The appeals had been filed at the Supreme Court.
Nazim’s lawyer, Fareesha Abdulla said she was not aware that her client had left Singapore, and said that he had travelled to the East Asian country on a temporary travel document.
The Maldives Correctional Services says it has not decided how to respond to Nazim’s failure to return.
“Ahmed Nazim’s lawyer has written on his behalf saying that Nazim wishes to inform us that he would not be returning to the Maldives, despite orders to do so, without completing his medical treatment,” an MCS spokesman said.
Nazim’s jailing by the Supreme Court was unexpected as both the criminal court and the appellate High Court had acquitted him of graft charges.
The apex court found him guilty of defrauding the state of MVR1.4 million (US $91,400) by submitting bids on behalf of non-existent companies to supply 15,000 national flags to the now-defunct atolls ministry.
The PG office said it had withdrawn the outstanding cases against Nazim because he was already serving a life sentence.
Public prosecutor Ahmed Hisham Wajeeh said: “Since Nazim is already serving life in prison, the state, as in many cases before, intends on assessing if pursuing further criminal charges would be in the best option, especially in terms of time and resources.”
The cases also involve the use of “paper companies” to win bids for the procurement of 220 harbor lights, sound systems for mosques and an additional 15,000 flags.
Nazim had previously lodged a complaint with the human rights watchdog over alleged mistreatment by prisons officers in state custody.