Home Minister Azleen Ahmed visited Jumhooree Party leader Gasim Ibrahim in hospital Monday night as an envoy of the president amid criticism over delays in authorising medical leave for the convicted opposition lawmaker.
The 67-year-old business tycoon was found guilty of attempted bribery last Friday and sentenced in absentia to more than three years in prison while he remained hospitalised after collapsing inside the courthouse. Citing doctor’s advice for Gasim to be urgently flown overseas for tests unavailable in the Maldives, Judge Adam Arif also ordered the authorities in the midnight verdict to make arrangements for him to seek treatment overseas.
Azleen told the state broadcaster after the meeting that Gasim will be allowed to leave within two or three days. The home minister was accompanied by Mohamed Hussain Shareef ‘Mundhu,’ the newly appointed ambassador to Sri Lanka.
The head of the national cardiac centre at the Indira Gandhi Memorial Hospital had warned last week that further delays “may result in life-threatening arrhythmia.”
Gasim remains at IGMH under guard by the Maldives Correctional Services. Azleen assured that the prisons authority will facilitate his departure.
JP spokesman Ahmed Sameer previously told the Maldives Independent that the delay in allowing Gasim to travel was “politically motivated”.
“Gasim is waiting for medical attention that he urgently needs but is being denied. He is at a hospital but in one without facilities to treat him. The correctional services are purposely delaying the procedure bowing down to orders directly from President Yameen to kill Gasim,” he alleged.
Ibrahim Muaz Ali, the president’s spokesman, said his office “does not have time to respond to blatant lies spoken by the opposition.”
Sameer said all the medical documents requested by the MCS have been handed over, including recommendation letters from two cardiologists in the Maldives.
“How can one survive without treatment to something that has endangered his life. By denying him treatment the government has officially ruled out Gasim’s right to live,” Sameer said.
A meeting of the prisons authority’s doctors board is reportedly due to take place Tuesday to authorise the medical leave.
Sameer also said the JP and Gasim’s family fear that he could be transferred to jail from the IGMH.
“He is being treated as a prisoner right now. There is a guard inside his room 24 hours,” he said.
“His phone has been confiscated. He is denied meetings with anybody except family and lawyer. That too with the guard across from you.”
But Gasim remains defiant and committed to the cause of the four-party opposition coalition, Sameer added.
“Gasim is still highly motivated and is urging us and the public to not give up the political struggle,” he said.
The two-time presidential candidate was prosecuted for offering to grant tickets from the allied opposition parties and help with the re-election campaigns of MPs who vote to impeach the speaker of parliament. The purported bribery offer was made in a speech ahead of the opposition’s failed bid to remove the speaker on March 27.
The MP for Maamigili will also lose his seat unless the conviction is overturned on appeal.
Gasim joins the ranks of high-profile politicians and state officials jailed after the current administration came to power, which includes former President Mohamed Nasheed, two former defence ministers, two ruling party lawmakers, a former prosecutor general, a former vice president, a senior military officer, and a magistrate.
Photo from Raajje.mv