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High Court orders retrial for former President Abdulla Yameen on bribery charges

Mariyath Mohamed
18 April 2024, MVT 18:41
Mariyath Mohamed
18 April 2024, MVT 18:41

Maldives High Court has ruled today to hold a retrial for former President Abdulla Yameen on the bribery conviction he received with a four year jail sentence.

With this ruling, the sentence for 4 years out of the total 11 year prison term Yameen is currently serving is revoked.

The High Court ordered that a retrial be granted to Yameen on the charges of accepting bribes in the lease of Vaavu atoll Aarah.

He is also serving a 7 year prison sentence for money laundering in relation to the lease of Vaavu atoll Aarah. High Court will reconvene to announce its ruling on the appeal of this case at 18:45 hrs today.

The current ruling issued by the three judge bench states that the lower court acted wrongfully in the submission of pre-trial submissions, as a result infringing upon Yameen's rights.

The ruling also said the Criminal Court's decision to accept new evidence against Yameen's defence evidence was also wrongful. It said that such evidence is only admissible under exceptional circumstances, and that the Criminal Court had proceeded in accepting this evidence without providing justifiable reasons for it. Furthermore, the ruling noted that Yameen's legal representatives had not been granted the opportunity to address it before admission was allowed.

Regarding the Criminal Court's decision that Yameen opting to exercise his right to silence during the investigation could be used against him, the High Court stated that there is no legal issue arising in this act. They went on to state that the lower court had also acted against the law in considering that Yameen was aware that the money was wrongfully obtained because MMPRC funds were included in Yameen's financial statement.

Based on these factors, the High Court ruled to overturn the Criminal Court's verdict. It called on the Criminal Court to hold a retrial as pre-trial actions of the earlier trial may have brought changes to the evidence involved.

The High Court has also revoked the prison sentence and ordered a retrial today for former MP for Felidhoo constituency Yoosuf Naeem, who had also been sentenced to a three year prison sentence for bribery in the same Aarah case.

The current hearing is being held to announce the High Court's verdict on the appeal case submitted by Yameen regarding last years Criminal Court verdict issued against him sentencing him to an 11 year prison sentence on charges of money laundering and bribery regarding the lease of Vaavu atoll Aarah.

Appeal hearings for the case were concluded by November last year.

Although sentenced to a prison term, Yameen was under house arrest since October last year.

The hearing was presided over by Judge Huzaifa Mohamed with Judge Hassan Shafeeu and Judge Mohamed Saleem also on the bench.

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