High Court on Thursday ordered a retrial of former Vice President Ahmed Adeeb's corruption conviction regarding the embezzlement of Maldives Marketing and Public Relations Corporation (MMPRC).
The Criminal Court sentenced Adeeb to eight years in 2016 after finding him guilty of embezzling USD 5 million (MVR 77 million) owed to the state as the acquisition cost of Maabinhuraa, Lhaviyani Atoll. The court also sentenced MMPRC's then-Managing Director Abdulla Ziyath to eight years and local businessman Hamid Ismail to two years, in the same case.
While the High Court overturned the verdict for Adeeb, it upheld the sentences of Ziyath and Hamid Ismail.
Announcing the verdict of Adeeb's appeal on Thursday, the High Court referred to the landmark ruling of the Supreme Court on February 1, 2018, in which the apex court ordered the release of nine high profile prisoners, including Adeeb. While the top court later annulled certain clauses of the ruling, the High Court highlighted that the statements on politically influenced verdicts were not nullified, and thus there were grounds to doubt that Adeeb's conviction in the MMPRC case was also politically influenced.
Hence, Chief Judge Shujau Usman and Judge Hussain Shaheed agreed to overturn the Criminal Court's verdict and order a retrial.
However, the third judge on the bench, Shuaib Hussain, maintained that the evidence presented was enough to find Adeeb guilty, and that the Criminal Court's verdict was correct. He further noted that the High Court maintained the lower court's sentences on Ziyath and Hamid.
With this ruling, all convictions have been lifted from the former vice president. The Supreme Court overturned his 10-year jail sentence over illegal weapons possession on Monday, while the High Court last week annulled Adeeb's 15-year sentence over his involvement in the explosion aboard the presidential speedboat in 2015 and ordered a retrial.
However, the High Court's verdict in the speedboat blast case also ordered Adeeb to be detained for 15 days, during which the lower court is to make a decision regarding his detention.