Jumhooree Party leader Gasim Ibrahim was summoned for questioning for the second time on Sunday afternoon on charges of offering bribes to lawmakers to vote in favour of impeaching the speaker of parliament.
The business magnate told reporters after nearly two hours at the police headquarters that officers took photos and an audio sample for their investigation.
“This is a case that has been reported by some people and police have to investigate. I appreciate it. They are fulfilling their duty,” he said.
Gasim was first summoned for questioning Wednesday night, two days after the no-confidence motion was defeated in a contentious roll call vote. He was questioned for declaring in a speech that the allied parties would grant tickets for the 2019 parliamentary elections to MPs who vote in favour of the no-confidence motion.
The police also wanted to do a video analysis of a speech, Gasim said, stressing that his appeal was directed at former JP lawmakers who switched to the ruling party.
He vowed to continue to work together with the allied opposition to bring an end to the government’s “tyranny”.
Gasim has also been barred from leaving the country for one month.
The opposition has denounced the police summons as intimidation and harassment in the wake of the no-confidence vote, an allegation that the government has since dismissed, insisting that the police and courts are independent.
Several opposition lawmakers meanwhile gathered near the central bank building when Gasim was summoned on Sunday afternoon. Riot police officers at the scene used a chilli-based irritant or form of pepper spray to push the crowd back from the restricted Republic Square area.
MP Abdulla Riyaz, the JP’s deputy leader and a former police commissioner, was also summoned for questioning on Sunday night. He was previously questioned last week and accused of spreading false rumours and unduly influencing the police force.
Riyaz told reporters that he is now accused of obstructing police duty for refusing to unlock his personal mobile phone, which was confiscated last week.
Three attempts to unlock his iPhone was unsuccessful as his previous passcode did not work, he said.
The police then asked him to unlock the phone with his fingerprint, but Riyaz said he refused as he was not obliged to do so by the court warrant that authorised the seizure of the phone.
“I asked them to get a warrant that says I have to unlock it with my fingerprint and they agreed. Later they called and said that they were unable to get a warrant. They said that the previous warrant required me to give all the information,” he told reporters after three hours inside the police headquarters.
The former police chief added: “I hope the police investigation will be fair, that no police officer will try to force a conviction on me by framing me for something I did not do.”
Gasim’s investigation has meanwhile drawn criticism over the failure to investigate an apparent admission of bribery by a ruling coalition lawmaker in March last year.
MP Mohamed Ismail of the government-aligned Maldives Development Alliance declared in parliament that he carried “sacks of money” to opposition MPs.
“I carried and distributed the money, and they all took it,” he said during a heated debate on a motion calling for a parliamentary inquiry into the theft of nearly US$80 million from the state-owned tourism promotion company.
The anti-corruption watchdog said at the time that it would launch an inquiry. But lawmakers cannot be prosecuted over statements made during parliament sittings.
The lawmaker later stood by the admission during an appearance on the pro-government DhiTV, claiming he distributed cash as a favour to jailed former Vice President Ahmed Adeeb.