Aarah trial: Hearing scheduled for Monday, but judge remains on leave

Former President Abdulla Yameen Abdul Gayoom speaks at the 'Havaaley Watan' rally at Alimas Carnival, Male' City, on August 19, 2022. (Sun Photo/Abdulla Abeed)

Criminal Court has scheduled a hearing in the case against former Maldivian president Abdulla Yameen Abdul Gayoom over the sale of V. Aarah for resort development for Monday, though the court’s chief judge Ahmed Shakeel – who is in charge of the case – remains on leave.

Yameen is on trial for money laundering and bribery in connection to the sale of the island.

He is accused of misusing his position and taking a USD 1 million bribe to facilitate the sale of Aarah to Yoosuf Naeem, a former parliamentary representative for Felidhoo constituency, and laundering the money.

The state has also charged Naeem with giving the bribe.

Both pled “not guilty” to charges.

The last hearing in the case was held on August 23, when the court heard testimony from a British digital forensics examiner who extracted data from phones used as evidence in the case. Concluding the hearing, Judge Shakeel announced another hearing would be held at 9:30 am on August 30, to hear testimony from two more state witnesses.

However, the hearing wasn’t scheduled as Judge Shakeel is on family emergency leave.

The court has now scheduled a hearing in the case for Monday, September 5. However, Sun has been informed Judge Shakeel took leave until September 11.

Criminal Court was not immediately available for comment.

Key state witnesses who have yet to testify include former MMPRC managing director Abdulla Ziyath and former vice president Ahmed Adeeb Abdul Gafoor - both of whom have been convicted of charges related to the MMPRC corruption and money laundering scandal.

The court had previously accepted a motion by the defense to have both Ziyath and Adeeb testify the same day.