Aarah trial: Court bars state from playing audios of Yameen 'pressuring' Adeeb

Then-vice president Ahmed Adeeb Abdul Gafoor (L) with then-president Abdulla Yameen Abdul Gayoom (R). (File Photo/Sun)

Criminal Court’s chief judge Ahmed Shakeel on Tuesday denied the prosecution the opportunity to play recordings of phone calls of former president Abdulla Yameen Abdul Gayoom allegedly pressuring then-vice president and tourism minister Ahmed Adeeb Abdul Gafoor.

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.

At the hearing on Tuesday, the court heard testimony from Adeeb, who was convicted of charges related to the MMPRC corruption and money laundering scandal and is now one of the prosecution’s key witnesses.

The prosecution also sought to play the recordings which it said were phone calls between Yameen and Adeeb as evidence.

However, the defense objected to having the audios played in court.

The defense said the charges against Yameen stemmed from a 2015 case, and there were therefore no grounds to play recordings of phone calls made long before that.

The defense said they did not believe the recordings could hold any conversation related to Aarah.

“This court does not find audios from before the incident is linked to this case. Therefore, audios from before 2015 will not be shared at trial,” said Judge Shakeel.

He said the prosecution, however, had the option of submitting the audios as evidence.

The prosecution challenged the judge’s decision and continued to press to have the recordings played at trial, stating they wished to have the recordings played to question the witness about its authenticity.

“This involves taking a bribe by exerting influence in a transaction made through Tourism Ministry. The witness himself was produced to prove influence in this transaction. And these audios were submitted to corroborate that,” said the prosecutor.

However, the judge stuck by his decision despite pressure from the prosecution.