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Opposition appeals ex-pres Yameen's case at High Court

Shahudha Mohamed
01 December 2019, MVT 12:58
Former President Abdulla Yameen Abdul Gayoom attending a ceremony held by Progressive Party of Maldives (PPM). The opposition appealed Yameen's five-year prison sentence at High Court on December 30. PHOTO: NISHAN ALI/ MIHAARU
Shahudha Mohamed
01 December 2019, MVT 12:58

The opposition, on Saturday, appealed the Criminal Court’s verdict sentencing former President Abdulla Yameen Abdul Gayoom to five years of imprisonment over money laundering.

Criminal Court sentenced Yameen to prison on November 28 and imposed a fine of USD 5 million, allotting a six-month period to pay the fine.

Opposition coalition People’s National Congress (PNC) and Progressive Party of Maldives (PPM) requested the High Court to postpone the enforcement of Yameen’s jail sentence and release him on bail.

Former President Abdulla Yameen Abdul Gayoom waving to his supporters prior to his verdict delivered on November 28. PHOTO: HUSSAIN WAHEED/ MIHAARU

During a press conference held at PPM's Office on Saturday, PNC’s President Abdul Raheem Abdulla stated that efforts were underway to determine which cell Yameen is kept in at Maafushi Prison.

He was previously detained at Male' Prison, until authorities completed his medical tests to determine where Yameen would serve his sentence, according to Maldives Correctional Service.

Yameen’s lawyers expressed concern over the condition of the jail cell he was detained at in Male’ Prison.

Where is Yameen now?

Correctional Service revealed on Sunday that Yameen was serving his sentence at Maafushi Prison's Special Protection Unit (SPU), which was established during Yameen's administration to detain political prisoners.

Former President Mohamed Nasheed was also locked up at SPU while serving his 13-year sentence during Yameen's tenure. In addition, former President and Yameen's estranged half-brother Maumoon Abdul Gayoom, current Minister of Home Affairs Imran Abdulla, former Minister of Defence and Dhangethi MP Mohamed Nazim, and former Dhiggaru MP Ahmed Nazim also were detained at SPU.

A spokesperson from Correctional Service assured that Yameen will receive all the rights and protections accorded to him under the Constitution.

Opposition rejects Criminal Court's verdict

Abdul Raheem declared that the opposition will not accept Yameen’s verdict, adding that his trial was motivated by political reasons and the ex-president was sentenced due to his forward-thinking policies regarding development.

"[Yameen was sentenced] because of the path he chose to achieve the completion of development projects according to his development policy", said Abdul Rahman, who formerly represented Fonadhoo constituency in the parliament.

Moreover, Abdul Rahman also accused prominent members of the ruling coalition of influencing Yameen's verdict and declared that he was prepared to do whatever it took to ensure Yameen's freedom.

As per Abdul Rahman, the current administration has been unjust towards Yameen from the beginning and will continue to influence Yameen's case every step of the way.

Ongoing "peaceful" protests

Ever since Yameen's verdict, the opposition coalition has been holding daily protests calling for the former president's freedom.

Maldives Police Service dispersed the crowd of Yameen's supporters that gathered on Male' roads on Friday night.

The protest lead by prominent opposition figures such as Abdul Raheem and PPM's Vice President and Naifaru MP Ahmed Shiyam was pushed back by Special Operations (SO) Police. Some of the participants then gathered around Jumhooree Party (JP)'s main hub located at Kunooz in Maafannu ward, shouting for Yameen's justice.

Naifaru MP Ahmed Shiyam being arrested by SO Police officers during opposition protests. PHOTO: MIHAARU FILES

Amongst the commotion, MP Shiyam was arrested along with some of PPM's council members and former Hoarafushi MP Mohamed Ismail. However, they were all later released.

The opposition also rallied in front of Male' Prison on Friday night calling for Yameen's freedom. Some were injured while three were arrested during the protest and later released as well.

The state charged the former president with money laundering over a transaction of USD 1 million to his personal account in Maldives Islamic Bank by SOF Pvt Ltd. The company is implicated in the MVR 3.3 billion embezzlement scandal of Maldives Marketing and Public Relations Corporation (MMPRC), considered the grandest corruption case recorded in Maldivian history.