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Many rights denied due to prolonged trial: Yameen

Speaking with the press after the High Court overturned former President Abdulla Yameen's 11-year prison sentence and ordered a retrial, Yameen said that he has been denied many rights due to the prolonged trial.

Malika Shahid
19 April 2024, MVT 12:10
Former president Abdulla Yameen speaks to the press after the High Court overturns his 11 year prison sentence -- Photo: Fayaz Moosa
Malika Shahid
19 April 2024, MVT 12:10

Former President Abdullah Yameen said last night that his rights were violated due to the prolonged delay in his trial after he appealed against the Criminal Court's 11-year prison sentence in the Vaavu atoll Aarah lease case.

The Maldives High Court on Thursday ordered a retrial for Yameen on the bribery conviction, for which he received a four-year prison sentence. Additionally, the High Court overturned the Criminal Court's verdict, which sentenced him to seven years in prison over money laundering charges. With both of these rulings, the High Court has now revoked the entire 11-year prison sentence related to charges of money laundering and bribery.

Speaking to the press outside the High Court as a freed citizen after the order, Yameen reiterated that during the preliminary stages of the trial, he had emphasized that the investigation was incomplete. He stated that there were loopholes in the investigation process, and he had previously expressed his belief that justice could not be served without completing a thorough investigation.

Former president Abdulla Yameen greets his supporters after the High Court overturns his 11 year prison sentence -- Photo: Fayaz Moosa

Yameen added that the High Court's ruling proved that the investigation was incomplete.

"It is unfortunate that there is no timeframe for an individual to be stuck in the criminal justice system until a verdict is reached. There is no regulation for a specific compensation, there is no way to expedite the process. So what happens next? The person has to remain in limbo until the High Court concludes their appeal," Yameen said.

Yameen expressed that he was not worried about losing the opportunity to contest the recent presidential election. However, he emphasized that he was concerned about the many rights he had lost.

Yameen's prison sentence closed his path from contesting the 2023 presidential election. The constitution stipulates that an individual with a sentence of more than one year for a criminal offence cannot contest the presidential election. A constitutional case was filed on behalf of Yameen in the Supreme Court last year, but the court also ruled that Yameen could not contest the presidential election.

Former president Abdulla Yameen speaks to the press after the High Court overturns his 11 year prison sentence -- Photo: Fayaz Moosa

"I do not understand the reason for the prolonged delay. Because of that, a lot of my rights have been lost," Yameen said.

"I have been imprisoned for over a year and a half now. By God's grace, I was able to return home when the government changed. But I have been deprived of a lot of rights. A lot of candidates are running for Parliament from my party. However, I am unable to visit islands to campaign for them, I cannot even go anywhere in Male' City, I cannot participate in political activities. I am only allowed to make a statement inside the party office. I was not even able to stand at the podium and talk."

The former president's supporters have now led the formation of a new political party named People's National Front (PNF).

Yameen expressed concern that he was not given the opportunity to speak in favor of the candidates contesting on PNF's ticket for the parliamentary elections scheduled for Sunday. He said that with only 48 hours left until the elections, he believes he has been denied a significant right.