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Fuggiri case: witness statements delayed, state ordered to disclose investigation files

Lamya Abdulla
28 May 2023, MVT 15:16
(FILE) Former President Solih waving from his window when he was under house arrest in August 2, 2021 -- Photo: Nishan Ali / Mihaaru
Lamya Abdulla
28 May 2023, MVT 15:16

Criminal Court ordered on Thursday for the state to allow former President Abdulla Yameen's defense lawyers to be able to access the investigation files in the Raa atoll Fuggiri case.

Yameen, who is currently serving an 11-year prison sentence for accepting a bribe in the lease of Vaavu Atoll Aarah and money laundering, has been accused of accepting a bribe of USD 1 million in connection with the lease of Fuggiri and laundering the illicit funds.

In addition to Yameen, Sun Investment Company, Sun Construction Company, and Ahmed "Krik" Riza are also charged in the case.

During the hearing, the defense team requested the investigation files of the case from the police, the Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC), and the presidential commission. The lawyers emphasized that the Supreme Court had previously ruled that these files should be provided upon request.

The state, however, argued that the request would have to be made at the early stages of the trial.

Judge Ali Nadeem ruled that the documents could be allowed to be examined even after the trial began. The judge then asked the state to collect the files within five days and then appear before the court with the originals of the files.

During the hearing, several submissions were made on behalf of Yameen and "Krik" Riza claiming that the police and the ACC had carried out the investigation in violation of the presidential commission's law and that all the evidence gathered from the investigation could not be accepted.

According to the prosecution, ACC has the power to investigate the bribery offence. According to the state, even if the presidential commission investigates corruption and misuse they do not hold the power to investigate money laundering offenses in this case.

They added that the ACC and the police investigated the case to conduct a joint investigation as mandated under the Code of Criminal Procedure.

Yameen and "Krik" Riza subsequently filed a plea requesting a declaration that the bank statements were obtained without a court order. Their lawyers argued that, according to the Banking Law, only information regarding the type of accounts can be obtained without a court order. They contended that a court order is required to access detailed transaction records from the accounts and conducting such checks without a court order would infringe upon the rights of many individuals.

The state contended that although the law permits investigating agencies and the prosecutor general to obtain information about bank's customers in writing, the definition also encompasses scrutinizing the transactions conducted through the accounts.

The state that the evidence obtained in good faith would be considered valid, citing a precedent set by the Supreme Court, emphasizing that the intention behind obtaining the evidence was lawful, and any technical irregularities in the process should not undermine the validity of the evidence itself.

Regarding the matter, Yameen said that in the case of Gaafu Alifu Vodumulaa, where he faced similar charges, the police after obtaining information about the amount of money stored in his account, publicly disclosed the amount through a press release.

Yameen said that he believes the disclosure of his bank account information was not done in good faith. He added that he has not yet been provided with a satisfactory legal solution to address this matter.

Due to the large number of requests submitted by the defense that require further discussion, the collection of witness statements, which was initially scheduled for Thursday, had to be rescheduled.

An additional hearing regarding this case will be held this week.

Yameen's defense has appealed his current prison sentence in the High Court. The hearings for this case has not started yet.