Criminal Court refuses remand for JP leader Gasim

Criminal Court on Thursday refused to remand opposition leader Jumhoory Party (JP) Gasim Ibrahim until the end of the trial.

During the first hearing, the prosecution had asked the court to remand the Maamigili lawmaker charged with three separate counts of three separate counts of attempted bribery and undue influence of a state official until the end of the trial.

However, the court had found no grounds to hold the business magnate in remand until sentencing.

Criminal Court had taken his trial behind closed doors for reasons yet unclear.

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.

A smiling Gasim told reporters after the hearing that he was pleased and said he hoped that justice would prevail at the end of the trial.

His lawyers also said that they were pleased with the judge's commitment to uphold rule of law.

The court had also lifted the suspension on Hisaan after she apologized for her comments.

Court had scheduled the second hearing for May 23.

The court had earlier rejected a prosecution request to remand deputy JP leader Abdulla Riyaz who has been charged with impeding the legal duty of a state official until the end of the trial.