Opposition asks committees to probe leaked audios after Parliament rejection

Maduvvari MP Adam Shareef Umar. (File Photo/People's Majlis)

Opposition parliamentarians, after the Parliament rejected an emergency motion over alleged audio recordings of three of the judges on the Criminal Court bench which convicted former Maldivian President Abdulla Yameen Abdul Gayoom of money laundering in 2019, submitted motions to three parliamentary committees asking for investigations. 

The emergency motion was submitted to the Parliament by PNC deputy leader, Maduvvari MP Adam Shareef Umar. After the motion was rejected by the Parliament this Tuesday, he submitted motions to the Security Services Committee, Human Rights and Gender Committee, and Judiciary Committee asking for investigations into the allegations of government interference made in the audio recordings. 

The emergency motion secured approval from just seven parliamentarians, while 20 voted against accepting the motion for consideration. 

Adam Shareef said he presented the motion to urge authorities for a fair trial as judges were influenced to wrongfully convict Yameen during the original trial. 

Yameen’s trial was originally assigned to then-chief judge of Criminal Court Ahmed Hailam, but he was suspended at the last minute and a five-judge bench was established to hear the case. The bench was composed of Judge Hussain Faiz Rashad, Judge Ali Rasheed Hussain, Judge Mohamed Sameer, Judge Ahmed Shakeel, and Judge Ali Adam.  

Alleged audio recordings of conversations by three of the judges - Hussain Faiz Rashad, Ali Adam, and Mohamed Sameer - went viral on Sunday, in which they make comments suggesting the trial was influenced. 

In one of the audio recordings – reportedly of Faiz – he says that the sentence against Yameen was issued by holding the judges hostage. 

Judicial Service Commission (JSC), which opened an investigation into the audio recordings last Monday, said that the three judges, when questioned, said that the audio recordings were fake and that they did not make such allegations. 

The other two judges also denied the allegations made in the audio recordings. 

JSC said that it has asked the police to conduct an analysis of the viral audio recordings, and that the judges have agreed to provide voice samples for the analysis. 

The issue of the audio recordings sparked heated exchanges at the Parliament last Monday, forcing the suspension of the sitting. Opposition parliamentarians, who see the audios as evidence of their long-held belief Yameen’s trial was rigged,  later went to the President’s Office to demand answers. 

Yameen was found guilty of laundering USD 1 million from the sale of GA. Vodamula  by the Criminal Court on November 28, 2019.  He was sentenced to 5 years in prison and fined USD 5 million. Yameen promptly appealed the conviction with the High Court, which sided against him and ruled to uphold the original sentence on January 21, 2021. 

He subsequently appealed the conviction with the Supreme Court, which is scheduled to begin appeal proceedings in September.

Yameen was serving his sentence in Maafushi Prison, but was transferred to home confinement following an outbreak of COVID-19 at the  prison in April.