High Court quashes order for Yameen to pay MVR 52 million

Former President and leader of the opposition Yameen Abdul Gayyoom | photo: edition.mv

Malé, Maldives – The High Court today quashed the Criminal Court’s order against former President Abdullah Yameen to pay USD 3,413,230 (MVR 52 million) to the state.

Yameen, who is serving an 11-year prison sentence for bribery and money laundering in connection with the lease deal of V. Aarah, was ordered to pay MVR 52 million to the state by the Criminal Court.

Yameen was sentenced to prison on December 25, 2022 and the Criminal Court on February 23 ordered to pay the MVR 52 million laundered in the case within six months.

The High Court today quashed the order after Yameen’s side appealed the case.

The order was quashed because the order to pay the money was issued after the judgment of the case.

A three-judge bench of the High Court today ruled that a separate order issued one month after the trial of the case to pay MVR 52 million to the state was invalid.

The High Court ruled that under the Criminal Procedure Act, the state can be ordered to recover the property and money obtained by crime at the time of sentencing and, if the property is found later, under a later order.

The judgment said that although the prosecution included the proceeds of crime in Yameen’s case, the state was not ordered to recover the money at the time of the judgment. Therefore, there is no reason to order the payment under a later order.

The order was issued in response to a letter sent by the prosecution two months after Yameen was sentenced to jail. The judgment also said that Yameen was not given the opportunity to defend himself before the order was issued.

“The order in this case violates the right of the accused to appeal the Criminal Court judgment under Article 56 of the Constitution, the right to seek acquittal under Article 51 and the right to equality before the law and protection of the law under Article 20,” presiding judge Mohammed Faisal stated.

According to the judgment, no further changes can be made to the judgment except to correct the spelling mistake. The judgment said that no court had acted in this way before and the prosecution could not explain why it acted differently in this case.

Justice Shafiu, who was part of the bench, said the prosecution had abused the court. He said the judge could not act in that way to correct the mistakes.

“Using the established system, the prosecution’s second request for the order is legitimate and I do not think this court can license it to do so,” he said.

The appeal against Yameen’s jail sentence over V. Aarah is still pending in the High Court. Yameen’s 11-year jail sentence was appealed in the High Court last week. The hearings have not yet started.