Criminal Court finalised the decision to compile a bench consisting of five judges to conduct the trial of former President Abdulla Yameen Abdul Gayoom.
Although the verdict in Yameen's money laundering trial was scheduled to be announced on November 5, the hearing was delayed following the suspension of Criminal Court's Chief Judge Ahmed Hailam. Judge Ali Rasheed assumed Judge Hailam's responsibilities following his suspension.
Judge Ali Rasheed announced that the decision to create a five-member judge bench as per the request lodged by Yameen was reached after deliberations.
The bench will consist of judges Ali Rasheed, Ahmed Shakeel, Mohamed Sameer, Ali Adam and Hussain Faiz Rashad.
The next hearing in Yameen's trial is scheduled for November 17.
Although the general procedure in lower courts is for one judge to oversee trials, regulations state that, depending on the nature of the case, a bench consisting of an odd number of judges can be tasked with overseeing the matter.
Judge benches were previously formed to conduct the trial of certain politically influential individuals. Parliament Speaker and former President Mohamed Nasheed and former Defence Minister Mohamed Nazim were tried by benches consisting of three judges.
Judge Hailam was suspended by the Judicial Services Commission (JSC) for posting an image in the Criminal Court's Viber group which depicted President Ibrahim Mohamed Solih and former President Mohamed Nasheed in chains, along with the orchestrators of the November 3, 1988 coup, on Victory Day.
In a public statement released following his suspension, Judge Hailam alleged that state officials had pressured him to guarantee that Yameen would be given a prison sentence.