Criminal Court scheduled the verdict for the money laundering charges against former President Abdulla Yameen Abdul Gayoom to be delivered on November 28.
The state charged former President Yameen with money laundering over a transaction of USD 1 million made to his account in Maldives Islamic Bank, by SOF Pvt Ltd. SOF is accused of being involved in the embezzlement of MVR 3.3 billion from Maldives Marketing and Public Relations Corporation (MMPRC).
While Yameen had agreed to transfer the USD 1 million to a joint escrow account of Bank of Maldives, which was opened with Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC), it later surfaced that the money Yameen transferred to the account was not the USD 1 million he received from SOF. The funds from SOF were instead deposited in a general investment account at MIB.
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 Hailam's responsibilities following his suspension.
A five-member judge bench was assembled as per the request lodged by the ex-president for his trial.
During Sunday's hearing, Yameen requested to commence the trial with the initial hearing, due to new judges being on the bench.
However, since the testimonies were already collected, Judge Ali Rasheed decided that the court proceedings will resume where they left off.
Therefore, the judge announced that the hearings for the trial have concluded, and scheduled Yameen's verdict for November 28.
Speaking at the hearing, Yameen's lawyer Ali Shah stated that Judge Ali Rasheed must decide on withdrawing from the trial, claiming that the judge provided false information to the press in violation of the Judicature Act.
Shah further requested the rest of the bench to make a decision on Judge Ali Rasheed's withdrawal, adding that there was no objection to proceeding with the four remaining judges.
Yameen also spoke at the hearing, claiming that he was deprived of justice since the beginning of his case, adding that he was unlawfully jailed over a charge that had nothing to do with the case.
Moreover, he stated that his personal accounts were frozen before he was convicted of any crimes.
Noting that he had concerns over Judge Ali Rasheed presiding over the trial, Yameen stressed that everyone must follow the Judicature Act, requesting the judge to refer to any unlawful acts he may have committed.
When the judges convened after discussions on the matter, Judge Ali Rasheed asserted that he did not provide information to the media in violation of the Judicature Act, adding that the Act prohibits responding to the narrative of a political figure or a media.
Emphasising that he did not speak of the trial at hand, Judge Ali Rasheed concluded that he did not see any reason to withdraw himself from the case.
He further guaranteed that the verdict would be just and free of bias.
Judges Ahmed Shakeel, Ali Adam, Hussain Faiz and Mohamed Sameer sit on the bench in addition to Ali Rasheed.