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Criminal Court's ex-Chief Judge denies all allegations

Shahudha Mohamed
24 June 2020, MVT 13:55
Former Chief Judge of Criminal Court Ahmed Hailam. Maldives Police Services accuse Hailam of money laundering and participating in business operations while he was employed as a judge. PHOTO: HUSSAIN WAHEED/ MIHAARU
Shahudha Mohamed
24 June 2020, MVT 13:55

Former Chief Judge of Criminal Court Ahmed Hailam, on Tuesday, denied all the allegations raised against him by authorities.

Maldives Police Services accuse Hailam of money laundering and participating in business operations while he was employed as a judge. Authorities are seeking to charge him with obstruction of justice over the latter allegation.

Hailam is suspected of money laundering over a transaction of MVR 200,000 that took place on May 19, 2019. The deposit was flagged by the independent agency, Financial Intelligence Unit (FIU).

In response to the allegations, Hailam previously tweeted that the money was acquired from former parliamentarian Alhan Fahmy, adding that it was a loan meant for one of Hailam's acquaintances.

Hailam admitted that he has yet to repay the loan and assured that it will be reimbursed as soon as he acquires enough funds.

The former judge was summoned to the Police Headquarters for questioning at 2200hrs on Tuesday, based on evidence collected by authorities during the investigation.

After the summons, Hailam denied partaking in any business activities during his time as a judge.

According to Hailam, it is more important to determine the legal grounds prohibiting a judge from conducting business before launching investigations into his business activities while he was a judge.

Referring to the Judges Act, Hailam stated that the law prohibits a judge from actively taking part in running a business, but does not impede on their freedom to carry out business transactions.

Therefore, he noted that it would not be illegal for a judge to register a business under their name and delegate the business operations to a family member.

Moreover, he added that even if a judge actively took part in the business, it would still not be a criminal offense.

"There are no legal grounds to criminalise a judge conducting business", Hailam insisted.

Hailam argued that if a judge was running a business, it would be a disciplinary issue which should result in a disciplinary investigation and the respective punishment.

"Abusing the law by using Section 533 of the Penal Code as a 'one size fits all' to go after anyone who calls out unlawful activities carried out by those in political positions, is very upsetting", he said.

Section 533 of the Penal Code lists obstructing the administration of law or other government function as a class 1 misdemeanour, which is punishable by up to one year in prison.

Hailam was designated the presiding judge for the state's money laundering case against former President Abdulla Yameen Abdul Gayoom, when Judicial Service Commission (JSC) suspended him over forwarding a controversial image to the court's Viber group.

Sent on the occasion of Martyr's Day, the picture depicted President Ibrahim Mohamed Solih and former President Mohamed Nasheed, along with the orchestrators of the November 3, 1988 coup, in chains.

Hailam submitted his resignation on December 2, 2019, while under suspension, attributing his decision to politicians allegedly exerting influence over judges.

Since then, Hailam has been vocal in questioning and criticising the judicial system on social media. He has bluntly expressed disappointment over politicians continuing to influence the judiciary despite President Ibrahim Mohamed Solih's pledge for judicial reform.

Some have alleged that Hailam was targeted and summoned by the police for speaking out against such issues.

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