Jumhooree Party leader Gasim Ibrahim has been rushed to the hospital after collapsing at the criminal court Thursday afternoon.
The 65-year-old opposition lawmaker fainted inside the courtroom during a closed-door hearing of his bribery trial. He was rushed out on a stretcher and taken on an ambulance to the Indira Gandhi Memorial Hospital.
The court heard witness testimony at a hearing on Wednesday and informed lawyers that the trial will resume next week. However, a hearing was scheduled on short notice this morning to hear defence witnesses, after which the judge adjourned proceedings and instructed lawyers to present closing arguments at 2:30 pm.
Gasim reportedly collapsed during the final hearing.
If found guilty, the business magnate could face a jail sentence of more than three years and two months. The MP for the Maamigili constituency in Alif Dhaal atoll will also lose his seat.
Gasim’s trial resumed in late July but was stalled for weeks after he was hospitalised twice with high blood pressure. The authorities rejected requests by Gasim’s legal team to allow him to seek treatment overseas despite doctors recommending that he undergoes tests unavailable in the Maldives.
The Prosecutor General’s office filed the bribery charges for the second time after the criminal court threw out the case last month when state prosecutors failed to show up at court.
Gasim is being prosecuted for declaring that the allied opposition 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.
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.