The High Court overturned Monday Jumhooree Party leader Gasim Ibrahim’s conviction on a bribery charge.
The MP for Maamigili was found guilty of attempting to bribe lawmakers and sentenced to more than three years in prison in August last year.
A three-judge High Court panel consisting of judges Shujau Usman, Hassan Ali and Mohamed Faisal ruled unanimously to quash the lower court verdict.
The ruling comes amid the release of several high-profile figures and the return of exiles since President Abdulla Yameen’s heavy defeat in the September 23 election.
Delivering the judgment, Chief Judge Usman said the conviction contravened “legal and judicial standards.”
The tycoon was not afforded procedural rights guaranteed by the constitution and criminal procedure laws, the chief judge declared.
The guilty verdict was handed down in absentia while the 67-year-old was hospitalised after collapsing inside the courthouse.
This violated Gasim’s constitutional right to be tried in person, the High Court ruled.
The criminal court proceeded with the trial despite being informed that Gasim was not in a condition to attend hearings.
The trial was conducted without taking into account Gasim’s health, as documents from two hospitals showed he underwent tests after admission and doctors had advised to travel abroad for treatment, Judge Usman said.
The criminal court also failed to follow procedures in revoking Gasim’s passport, he added.
Hailed as the “kingmaker” in previous presidential elections, Gasim and the JP was part of the coalition that decisively defeated Yameen in the September 23 polls.
Vice president-elect Faisal Naseem was nominated to the coalition ticket by the JP.
While he was in exile, Gasim’s son Ibrahim Siyad Gasim, managing director of the Villa conglomerate, was detained for over five months on bribery charges.