Opposition calls to free ex-Pres Yameen after judge allegedly admits outside influence

Former President Abdulla Yameen Abdul Gayyoom escorted to prison | Photo: PPM

Male’, Maldives – Opposition PPM/PNC Coalition submitted a decree calling out to immediately free former President and PPM Party’s leader, Yameen Abdul Gayyoom from jail after an audio was leaked where one of the judges of the Criminal Court’s five-member bench stated that the sentence on Yameen was verdict by holding the judges “hostage”. 

Secretary General of the Opposition Party, Tholaal submitted the decree to the council on behalf of the Prosecutor Congress Coalition’s leadership and stated that the leaked audio of the Criminal Court’s judges confirms that the judges also believe that the verdicts announced on Yameen was indeed unjust.

As the judges have been saying that the verdict on Yameen was not according to the law, the decree from the opposition party called out to immediately free Yameen from jail without any conditions. The supporters of the decree stated that they are prepared to even protest if necessary for Yameen to be freed from jail.

According to local media outlet “Sun”, in the audio, Judge Hussain Faiz Rashad made the comment in a conversation with a friend, where he stated that there are many ways a person can be held hostage, that is, even if the himself was not held hostage, it can be done by holding his wife or a loved one hostage. 

In addition to this, Judge Faiz also described trials involving politicians as an “unusual business”, and saying that being imprisoned unjustly can only boost Yameen’s popularity. He also said that Yameen was convicted of the crime not based on just one reason, but based on multiple reasons, but that he is unable to divulge details. The judge is further heard saying that Yameen’s conviction will serve in his favor in the long run, and that it will be clear in 2023 – when Maldives will hold the presidential elections.

Judge Faiz also mentioned that out of five judges issuing a dissenting opinion would have no effect on the outcome. 

Yameen’s trial was originally assigned to then-chief judge Ahmed Hailam, but he was suspended at the last minute and a five-judge bench was established to hear the case. The other four judges on the bench, in addition to Faiz were, Judge Ali Rasheed Hussain, Judge Mohamed Sameer, Judge Ahmed Shakeel, and Judge Ali Adam. 

On November 2019, the Criminal Court verdicted that Yameen was guilty of laundering USD 1 million of the government through MMPRC by leasing GA. Vodamula. While a verdict on that case was appealed at the High Court, on January 21, High Court announced that they will be holding the verdict of the Criminal Court. A case was later sent to the Supreme Court on behalf of Yameen regarding this matter.

While the former President was sentenced to 5 years in prison and fined USD 5 million in November 8, 2019, President Yameen has currently served more than 400 days of his 5 year money laundering sentence after USD 1 million was found to have been transferred to his account under suspicions circumstances.

After he appealed this sentence at the High Court, highlighting a total of 75 points at the sentencing today, 2 of the 3 judges delivering the verdict supported Criminal Court’s decision.

President Yameen also has other ongoing cases against him. The Prosecutor General is currently charging the Former President of accepting bribes worth MVR 117,000 during the lease of R. Fuggiri for the development of a tourist resort. Along with the Former President, Ahmed Krik Rilhaa of MA.Kurikeelahiya, Male’, is also accused of being involved in the embezzlement of money in the case.

Most recently, the Former President is accused of laundering MVR 15.3 million (USD 1 million) involving the sale of V. Aarah to a foreign party.