The judge presiding over Jumhooree Party (JP) leader Qasim Ibrahim’s son and Villa Group’s managing director Ibrahim Siyad Qasim’s case has been changed without any notice.
Siyad was produced in Criminal Court at 3:00 p.m. on Sunday for his trial on bribery charges.
Speaking to the press outside the court, Siyad’s lawyer Hisaan Hussain said a preliminary hearing was scheduled for Sunday.
Hisaan said they came to know the judge was changed when the hearing began.
Hisaan said the law is very clear on the circumstances when the judge presiding a case can be changed, hence the judge cannot be changed without such a circumstance being present.
Hisaan said the case cannot proceed without completing the procedures that are necessary to change the judge.
“Article 152 of the Criminal Procedures Act states that if a judge presiding over a case is changed for any reason, the chief judge has to inform both defendant and prosecution in writing. Since we were not informed of the change, we requested that the hearing be halted in order to follow the guidelines stated in the Act”, Hisaan said.
Hisaan said the judge accepted the request and cancelled the hearing.
Criminal Court Judge Hussain Saeed presided over Siyad’s case previously. However, on Sunday’s hearing, Judge Ahmed Hailam was assigned to the case.
Citing an ongoing investigation, police arrested Siyad under the State of Emergency on February 7. Siyad was charged with offering bribes and ordered to be kept in detention pending the outcome of his trial by Criminal Court on March 21.
Many accuse that Siyad, who had never taken part in politics, was arrested as revenge as the government is unable to arrest his father Qasim Ibrahim. Others had called for his immediate release, saying that he was arrested on a baseless allegation.