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Yameen’s release demonstrates this government does not influence trials: Abdul Raheem

Ameera Osmanagic
20 April 2024, MVT 12:04
President Dr. Muizzu in Fuvahmulah
Ameera Osmanagic
20 April 2024, MVT 12:04

Special Advisor to the President Abdul Raheem Abdullah, commenting on the case of former President Abdulla Yameen Abdul Qayyoom whose 11-year jail term was quashed by the High Court yesterday, has said that this event demonstrates the current administration’s lack of influence over judicial proceedings.

His remarks posted on X (formerly Twitter), praised President Dr. Mohamed Muizzu, and went on to say that the President has assured the public that justice in the Maldives is guaranteed for everyone without discrimination.

“[You] have proven that the judiciary is free from influence and is free to conduct trials independently. Maldivians want leaders like you, whose words reflect their actions,” said Abdul Raheem, who was previously a close associate of Yameen.

This comes as Yameen now walks as a free man after the High Court overturned his four- and seven-year jail sentences on charges of bribery and his alleged involvement in money laundering during the lease of Vaavu atoll Aarah respectively. A ruling on this appeal was finally issued last week after having been delayed for months.

Despite Yameen’s release during the administration of President Dr Muizzu, tensions are high between both presidents who previously used to be politically aligned. The fall out officially happened after President Dr Muizzu was sworn in as President following the 2023 Presidential election – one which Yameen was disqualified from contesting in due to his ongoing sentence at the time. According to Yameen, this disconnect is not due to a lack of effort on his behalf.

Yameen appealed his disqualification in the Supreme Court at the time, however, was not successful with the court citing eligibility conditions stipulated in the Maldivian constitution. Article 109 (f) of the constitution dictates that the President Elect should not be an individual convicted of a criminal offence and sentenced to a term of more than 12 months unless three years has elapsed since their release or pardon.

With all avenues exhausted, President Dr Muizzu contested in the elections as an opposition candidate instead of Yameen.

Inspite of their fall out, President Dr Muizzu, in People’s National Congress (PNC) campaign event held the night prior to Yameen’s release, said that he hopes for Yameen’s release the following day.

One of the first things President Dr Muizzu advocated for after being elected was for Yameen’s transfer from jail to house arrest, which the administration at the time accommodated.

Although the High Court on Thursday overturned the Criminal Court verdicts, the case was ordered to be sent in for a retrial.