Supreme Court on Monday overturned the verdict sentencing former Vice President Ahmed Adheeb to 10 years in jail over illegal weapons possession.
The state had pressed terrorism charges against the former VP, accusing that he was in possession of a pistol during the opposition-led May Day rally of May 2015. The Criminal Court sentenced Adeeb to prison after finding him guilty, which was later upheld by the High Court.
At the verdict hearing of Adeeb's appeal on Monday, Chief Justice Dr Ahmed Abdulla Didi noted that investigative bodies failed to recover the pistol while the state had not submitted any technical reports to verify the alleged weapon. Referring to witness testimonies, he also said that the witnesses were not qualified to authenticate the weapon.
The chief justice further stated that there were doubts regarding the crime scene officer's report on the case, and that the state had admitted failure in providing sufficient evidence.
Moreover, Dr Didi highlighted that Adeeb was charged under the old Prevention of Terrorism Act, which was nullified following the implementation of the Prevention of Money Laundering and Financing of Terrorism Act in 2015. He stated that possession of a weapon alone did not constitute terrorism, unless the offender committed certain actions with the weapon, as per the new law.
However, the Supreme Court noted that weapons possession was a criminal offence under other laws, such as the Prohibiting Threatening and Possession of Dangerous Weapons and Sharp Objects Act, and the Import Prohibition Act.
The chief justice further stated that any leniency accorded in a new law may be retroactively granted to defendants who were charged under the previous law, and that such practices are accepted in developed countries.
Hence, the three judges on the bench unanimously ruled to overturn the jail sentence issued on Adeeb by the Criminal Court and High Court.
Presiding over the case were Chief Justice Ahmed Abdulla Didi, Judge Adam Mohamed Abdulla and Judge Abdul Ghani Mohamed.
Meanwhile, the High Court last week also overturned Adeeb's jail sentence of 10 years in connection to the explosion aboard the presidential speedboat in September 2015. However, the former vice president still faces eight years in prison over corruption charges.