The High Court has decided that the Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) member Abdulla Jabir cannot be released from jail as his legal team had requested.
Jabir’s legal representatives submitted their appeal earlier this month on March 3. At the hearing yesterday (March 10) Jabir’s lawyers asked the court to release the MP until it had reached a conclusion on whether or not to uphold the Criminal Court’s decision to imprison him for 12 months.
On February 20 Jabir was sentenced to 12 months in prison after being found guilty of failing to provide a urine sample to the police to run a drug test.
The Kaashidhoo MP’s representatives have argued that his trial and sentencing “was in violation of several procedural and factual formalities accorded in the Constitution and statutes of the Maldives.”
Local media reported that the High Court informed Jabir’s legal team that their request could not be granted later on the same day.
The incident leading to Jabir’s imprisonment happened on November 16, 2012, when a total of 10 people were taken into police custody after police raided and searched the island Hondaidhoo. Officers alleged they found large amounts of “suspected” drugs and alcohol upon searching the island.
Police Sub-Inspector Hassan Haneef said at the time of the arrests that officers requested all suspects taken into custody on Hondaidhoo to provide urine samples for a routine examination. Seven individuals including other senior MPs refused to give a urine sample, leading to prosecution.
Police issued an order for Special Envoy Ibrahim Hussain Zaki – one of those facing charges related to the incident – to be taken into custody presented in court after officials were unable to present him with a summons.
After his conviction, Jabir’s legal team submitted a plea to the High Court arguing that he had the right to campaign for the Majlis elections. Jabir was set to re-contest his Kaashidhoo seat after an internal MDP decision to discipline the MP for repeatedly breaking three-line whips was overturned on appeal.
The constitution stipulates that a anyone sentenced to longer than 12 months in prison will be ineligible for election to the People’s Majlis.
While the MP was recently found not to have been guilty of possessing cannabis during the incident, his trial for alcohol possession is ongoing.
Speaking prior to this announcement by the High Court, Jabir’s wife Dhiyana Saeed stated the legal team would file a case with the Civil Court if the High Court did not accept.
Dhiyana was not responding to calls at the time of press.