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High Court orders retrial of Adeeb's case at Criminal Court

Shahudha Mohamed
21 September 2020, MVT 17:26
Former vice president Ahmed Adeeb on July 23, prior to his remand hearing at the High Court. AHMED AWSHAN ILYAS / MIHAARU
Shahudha Mohamed
21 September 2020, MVT 17:26

The High Court, on Monday, ordered the Criminal Court to conduct a retrial into the charges against former Vice President Ahmed Adeeb, alleged to be the "mastermind" behind the MVR 1.3 billion embezzlement scandal of Maldives Marketing and Public Relations Corporation (MMPRC).

On July 14, the Criminal Court cleared the ex-VP of all the charges against him, including two counts of embezzlement, two counts of money laundering, as well as exerting influence for illicit gains, exerting influence to earn illicit gains for another party, and abusing his official position. In its verdict, the court cited that the state had "wrongfully" entered a confessional agreement with Adeeb.

In addition to noting that the acceptance of confessions acquired through coercion was forbidden as per the constitution, Judge Ismail Rasheed who presided over the trial, added that there was no guarantee that the police had re-investigated the MMPRC case exempt from influence. He further stated that the government had pressed charges against Adeeb after the statute of limitations listed in the Criminal Procedure Code had passed.

The Prosecutor General's (PG) Office then appealed the Criminal Court's decision at the High Court, asserting that the verdict was in violation of the Criminal Procedure Code.

Monday's High Court verdict of the appeal, delivered by Presiding Judge Mohamed Niyaz, Judge Hussain Mazeed and Judge Shuaib Hussain Zakariyya, stated that regardless of whether the confessional agreement was entered wrongfully or otherwise, it was not the court's role to determine the validity of the agreement.

The verdict also underlined that the court is tasked with confirming the existence of the agreement and notifying the defendant of the opportunity to retract their confession, rather than initiating a verdict on the agreement.

"Therefore, the procedure did not follow the Criminal Procedure Code", the High Court's ruling read.

Furthermore, the verdict described the debate over the agreement's validity as a "waste of time", highlighting that the court need not investigate the matter further as the defendant has the right to renounce the agreement regardless of its validity.

Referring to the aforementioned points, the High Court stated that the case was transferred to the Criminal Court for it to conduct a retrial into the seven charges against Adeeb, beginning from the preliminary stages.

With this development, the Criminal Court is now tasked with reviewing Adeeb's remand. The former VP is currently under state custody, due to the appeal lodged at the High Court.

Adeeb himself expressed his belief that the Criminal Court should conduct a retrial into the charges, affirming that he was prepared to fully cooperate in the investigation of the MMPRC corruption scandal.

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