The criminal court has released Jumhooree Party leader Gasim Ibrahim with conditions after 20 days in police custody.
According to defence lawyer Hisaan Hussain, the court imposed seven conditions for the opposition lawmaker’s release, including cooperating with the police investigation, seeking police permission before leaving the country, and not committing any act to influence witnesses or eliminate evidence.
Other conditions include refraining from “holding meetings with people who sow discord and strife in society,” speaking in a manner that sows discord or incites unrest and allowing others to use his home or property to deliver such speeches.
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 was arrested for the second time on April 20, a week after the high court ordered his release from a six-day remand detention. On April 13, he 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.
The criminal court at the time rejected the prosecution’s request to detain Gasim for the duration of the trial. A week later, he was arrested at midnight from his home in Malé on fresh charges of bribery and attempting to overthrow the government.
The criminal court later remanded the business tycoon to police custody for 15 days. The remand period was extended by four days last Friday.
He was released Wednesday afternoon after he was brought to court for the third remand hearing. The 65-year-old was detained at the police custodial centre on the island of Dhoonidhoo near Malé.
Gasim’s lawyers told the press after Friday’s 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.
The judge told the police on Friday to submit new evidence if the state wants to keep the opposition lawmaker in custody.
According to the arrest warrant granted by Chief Judge Abdul Bari Yousuf in late April, Gasim was accused of influencing lawmakers to sign no-confidence motions to remove the speaker and deputy speaker of parliament.
He was also accused of influencing judges as well as police and military officers and of inciting fear and sowing discord among the public.
The police claimed at the time that Gasim was encouraging the alleged actions in his speeches at nightly opposition rallies, which continue to take place at the JP headquarters in Maafanu Kunooz.
Leaving him free would impede the investigation as he could hide evidence and influence witnesses, the warrant stated.
Gasim also poses a threat to society, the police 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.
With former President Mohamed Nasheed in exile and other opposition leaders in jail, Gasim was the only opposition leader able to actively lead the new coalition formed between opposition parties and former President Maumoon Abdul Gayoom.
Opposition supporters and JP members protested near the criminal court when Gasim was brought to the remand hearing today.
— Abdulla Mausoom (@Mausoom_Maus) May 10, 2017