Court refuses to remand deputy JP leader

Criminal Court on Thursday rejected a prosecution request to remand deputy Jumhoory Party (JP) leader Abdulla Riyaz.

During the first hearing, the prosecution had asked the court to remand the Kinbidhoo lawmaker charged with the impeding the legal duty of a state official until the end of the trial.

But the court had found no grounds to hold the former police chief Riyaz in remand until sentencing.

Meanwhile, JP leader Gasim Ibrahim is also on trial on similar charges amid a backlash over fresh opposition pressure against the government.

Gasim had penned a historic treaty with main opposition Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) leader Mohamed Nasheed, deposed ruling party leader Maumoon Abdul Gayoom and religiously conservative Adhaalath Party (AP) leader Sheikh Imran Abdulla.

Gasim faces three separate counts of attempted bribery and undue influence of a state official.

Criminal Court had taken is trial which began earlier Thursday behind closed doors.

The reason behind the decision remains unclear, but the court had earlier banned two lawyers from Gasim's legal team for comments made against the court the day before.

The trial was scheduled hours after the Maamigili lawmaker was freed by the High Court after the appellate court ruled that the business magnate was arrested in violence of due procedure.

One of Gasim's lawyers who was banned, Hisaan Hussain had said the criminal court is "likely" to order the seasoned lawmaker be put in remand until the end of the trial.

Gasim who was taken into custody on Thursday was immediately freed following the ruling.

Police had arrested the seasoned lawmaker over allegations of attempting to bribe government MPs ahead of a censure vote against parliament speaker Abdulla Maseeh.

His legal team however had appealed his arrest saying that the now opposition JP leader had been detained in violation of his parliament privileges and immunity.

According to parliament rules of procedure, unless from a scene of crime, a lawmaker can only be arrested under a warrant from a superior court on direct request from the chief prosecutor.
Gasim's legal team had questioned the validity of the case after the High Court ruling.