No false testimony in Yameen’s trial: Opposition

Acting leader of the opposition PNC/ PPM coalition, Abdul Raheem Abdulla (Adhurey) | Photo: Fayaz Moosa

Malé, Maldives – The opposition PPM / PNC coalition has said that no false testimony was given in the trial of Opposition Leader, President Abdullah Yameen.

In the bribery and money laundering charges against him in the V. Aarah case, the former presidents defense witnesses testified to prove that the money deposited in his account in the case was a dollar purchase transaction.

Malé City Council Deputy Mayor Ahmed Nareesh and another person testified that they counted MVR 15 million at Yameen’s house and handed it over to the second defendant, Yousuf Naeem.

The Criminal Court ruled that the witnesses who testified on behalf of Yameen were believed to have abused the criminal justice system. The judgment also said that the witnesses had given fraudulent and definitely false information to the court.

Replying to a question by a journalist at the opposition press conference yesterday, PNC President Abdul Raheem Abdullah (Adhurey) said that President Yameen has not submitted false evidence.

He said the Criminal Court verdict was not based on much evidence and was against the Supreme Court’s decision. Adhurey also questioned why Nareesh’s testimony should be false when the prosecution’s witnesses, former Vice President Ahmed Adeeb and former MMPRC chief Abdullah Ziath, were considered.

The opposition has repeatedly said it will not accept the court’s verdict. The opposition has also started protests calling for the release of President Yameen. The opposition is preparing to hold a major rally in various parts of the country next Friday.

The 105-page judgment against former President Yameen also noted contradictions and inconsistencies in the testimony of the witnesses. The judgment stated that the witnesses could not say when the MVR 15 million was handed over to Yusuf Naeem, or whether it was during the day or at night, but it was surprising that the witnesses gave very minute details of other events that took place that day.

The judgment noted the contradictions in the testimony of the second person who went to the house with Nareesh. He could not say whether he was standing or sitting when the money was counted in Dhoovehi [Yameen’s house], nor how he entered Yousuf Naeem’s house.

Moreover, despite the testimony of Nareesh and the second person that Yousuf Naeem signed a document without counting whether the money was enough when he carried MVR 15 million and handed it over to Yousuf Naeem, that is not what a reasonable human being would have done, the judgment said.

Nareesh and Abdullah Rasheed said that MVR 15,420,000 was taken and handed over to Yousuf Naeem in September 2015. The undated document stated that Yusuf Naeem had received USD 1 million in cash.

The court has now ruled that it was a fabricated false testimony by both witnesses.

A police official said a criminal investigation into the case is underway.

The Criminal Court of Maldives ruled yesterday that Yameen was convicted of bribery and money laundering.

Yameen was sentenced to four years in prison for accepting a bribe. He was convicted of money laundering and sentenced to seven years in prison and fined USD 5 million to be paid within six months. Therefore, Yameen will serve a total of 11 years in jail.

Prosecution charged former President Yameen with money laundering and acceptance of a bribe of USD 1 million from former MP of Felidhoo Constituency Yusuf Naeem. The charges for both parties are as follows.

  • Former President Yameen Abdul Gayyoom – Money laundering under Prevention of Money Laundering and Terrorism Financing Act, 2014 (Act No. 10 of 2014) and acceptance of a bribe under Chapter 510(a)(d) of the Maldives Penal Code (Law No. 6/2014)
  • Former MP of Felidhoo Constituency Yusuf Naeem – Bribery under Chapter 510(b)(d) of the Maldives Penal Code (Law No. 6/2014)

Yousuf Naeem was also sentenced to three years in jail after being convicted of bribery.

The charges have now closed Yameen’s chances of contesting next year’s presidential election. The opposition said it would appeal the verdict in the High Court.

The prosecutor’s office had alleged that Yameen and Yusuf Naeem had laundered USD 1 million in bribes using the then President’s position in the lease transaction to develop a tourist resort through the Ministry of Tourism and the Maldives Marketing and Public Relations Corporation.

The Prosecution had previously told that on September 15, 2015 Yusuf Naeem handed over a check of USD 1 million which was deposited to ex President Yameen’s HSBC account on the following day, 16 September 2015.

President Yameen allegedly transferred USD 1,001,409 from the HSBC account to his BML account on February 22, 2016. USD 1,295,000 was then transferred to an MIB account from the BML account almost a year later on February 21, 2017.

A month later on March 14, 2017 USD 3,413,230 was then transferred to a general investment account at the same bank, MIB, for 36 months.