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Supreme Court sustains order to unfreeze jailed ex-President's accounts

Shahudha Mohamed
08 October 2020, MVT 15:39
Former President Abdulla Yameen Abdul Gayoom, escorted by officers from Maldives Correctional Service (MCS). PHOTO: AHMED AWSHAN/ MIHAARU
Shahudha Mohamed
08 October 2020, MVT 15:39

The Supreme Court, on Thursday, announced that former President Abdulla Yameen Abdul Gayoom's accounts were frozen unlawfully.

Delivering the verdict over the High Court's decision to unfreeze the ex-President's bank accounts at Islamic Bank of Maldives (MIB), which the state appealed at the Supreme Court, the apex court concluded that there were no grounds to freeze all of Yameen's accounts over a matter involving just one account.

Yameen, now serving a five-year sentence in Maafushi Prison, was then under investigation for a USD 1 million transaction carried out from the joint escrow account he had made with the Anti Corruption Commission (ACC).

The High Court, at the time, annulled the Criminal Court's order to freeze Yameen's accounts, stating that the order was issued without completing the steps listed in the Criminal Procedure Code.

The Supreme Court delivered Thursday's verdict based on the fact that the state failed to prove any links between Yameen's other accounts and the USD 1 million in the escrow account in question.

Declaring Criminal Court's order as "unlawful", Judge Husnu-al Suood asserted that Maldives Police Service must state the alleged amount of questionable funds, or submit evidence to back up any reasons to believe that all the funds in Yameen's accounts were acquired unlawfully.

Although the High Court had nullified Criminal Court's order, the Supreme Court noted that the High Court's decision did not cite the correct reasons.

The High Court had overturned the Criminal Court's order stating that the Criminal Procedure Code's Section 72, which requires the state to receive an order to monitor an account prior to requesting for an order to freeze the account, was overlooked when Criminal Court issued the order.

However, the Supreme Court's verdict underlined that the state may request an order to freeze accounts without an order to monitor them, based on information divulged by financial institutions listed in the Banking Act and details gathered by the Prosecutor General's (PG) Office.

Despite highlighting that the High Court's reasons for overturning the Criminal Court's order were baseless, the Supreme Court sustained the High Court's order because the state failed to provide adequate reasons for requesting the order in the first place, as well as proving links between the funds in question and the funds in Yameen's other accounts.

In addition to presiding Judge Husnu-al Suood, the Supreme Court's bench for the hearing consisted of Judge Azmralda Zahir and Judge Aisha Shujoon Mohamed.

Following his imprisonment, the incarcerated ex-President had appealed his sentence at the High Court. After a series of hearings, the case is currently as the stage of delivering the verdict.

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