Former President Abdulla Yameen will be acquitted of accepting bribes and money laundering in the Vaavu atoll Aarah case, Dr. Mohamed Jameel Ahmed has predicted.
Yameen was sentenced to 11 years in prison on December 25 for taking USD 1 million as bribes and laundering said money from former Felidhoo MP Yusuf Naeem in the Aarah lease case.
The opposition PPM-PNC (Progressive Party of Maldives and People's National Congress) coalition has already announced the former President as their candidate for the upcoming presidential election.
However, long as the conviction of accepting bribes and money laundering through the lease transaction of Vaavu atoll Aarah remains in force, opposition leader Yameen will lose his chance to contest in the presidential election to be held in September 9.
In a press conference held by Yameen’s team of lawyers on Tuesday, Dr. Jameel said that they will appeal the case in High Court and Yameen will be released in March.
“We hope, to be very honest, that President Yameen will be released around March,” he said.
Noting the difference between the appeal stage and the lower court proceedings, Jameel said the appeal stage would go faster. The High Court usually holds two or three hearings during the appeal process, he said.
Lawyer Adam Shameem said the case is expected to be resolved by March if the case continues without any further influence.
The period announced by Elections Commission for submitting candidacy is 23 July to 3 August. To be able to contest the 2023 presidential election, Yameen must be released before August 3.
Yameen’s lawyers said a lot of research is required to appeal the sentence. They also said that party members and the leadership inquire about the case and that they hope to file the appeal as soon as possible.
Yameen's lawyers have previously said that the appeal is being delayed because the Criminal Court has not issued the trial report. The court issued the report on January 15.
Yameen was found guilty of money laundering in 2021 over the lease of Gaafu Alifu Vodumulaa and sentenced to jail for five years in 2019. The verdict was appealed in the High Court then within two days. Then, Yameen filed 75 appeals, and the case was concluded against him by the High Court on 1 January, 2021. However, the Supreme Court later ruled in favour of Yameen.