Maldives court overturns conviction to free JP leader Gasim

Maldives' first appellate court on Monday freed jailed Jumhoory Party (JP) leader Gasim Ibrahim after overturning his bribery conviction.

The business tycoon was convicted of bribery and sentenced to over three years in prison in August last year.

Gasim had been convicted after the court found him guilty of attempting to bribe fellow lawmakers to back the opposition led censure motion to unseat parliament speaker Abdulla Maseeh in March last year.

Gasim was granted medical leave to travel to Singapore where he had undergone a minor heart surgery last September before travelling to Germany.

However, Gasim had returned to the Maldives earlier this month after he was granted bail by the High Court.

During the appeal hearings, the prosecution had admitted several procedural violations in Gasim's conviction and subsequent jailing.

High Court on Monday overturned the conviction saying that the lower court had in fact violated several procedures during the original trial.

With the High Court verdict, Gasim became the latest jailed opposition figure to be freed in the wake of the opposition alliance's stunning victory in last month's presidential elections.

Incumbent president Abdulla Yameen Abdul Gayoom lost the September 23 election by a margin of 16 percent to opposition alliance candidate, Ibrahim Mohamed Solih, in an outcome hailed as a win for democracy in the crisis-hit archipelago.