Yameen’s case to be submitted to appeal next week

Former President and leader of the opposition Progressive Party of Maldives (PPM) Abdulla Yameen Abdul Gayoom. (Sun Photo/Abdulla Abeedh)

Opposition coalition has revealed that efforts were underway to submit the money laundering and bribery conviction of opposition leader, former President Abdulla Yameen Abdul Gayyoom for appeal early next week.

Yameen was charged with money laundering and bribery in connection to the sale of V. Aarah for resort development during his administration.

He was accused of abusing 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 said money.

Criminal Court found Yameen guilty on both charges on December 25.

He was sentenced to seven years in prison for the money laundering charge, alongside a fine of USD 5 million

Meanwhile, he was sentenced to four years in prison for taking a bribe. 

Speaking at a press conference by the opposition coalition on Thursday night, head of Yameen’s legal team, Dr. Mohamed Jameel Ahmed, said that he hopes to submit Criminal Court’s judgment for appeal next week.

While Yameen’s legal team was handed over the full case report of the trial alongside the transcript of witness testimonies last Sunday – Jameel has strongly criticized the report on multiple occasions. He emphasized the legal team’s dilemma on having to carry out extensive research of the report and the transcript of testimonies in order to prepare the appeal.

“The report was concluded very unusually. The appeal would be submitted following extensive research of the report, inclusive of what’s included in it. This process is presently nearing its end. Hoping to submit to appeal in the upcoming week,” he said.

A 60-day period is granted to appeal lower case judgments to High Court. Although there are many days remaining in this period – the delay in appeal in Yameen’s case, who was granted the presidential ticket by the opposition PPM-PNC coalition, is of concern as the appeal process may not conclude in time for the election.

Yameen had been convicted of similar charges back in 2019, in connection to the sale of GA. Vodamulaa for resort development. However, he was acquitted by the Supreme Court last November – just short of two years into his five-year prison term. 

The High Court appeal in Vodamulaa trial took over a year. However, the trial was delayed back then by the obstructions arising from the COVID-19 pandemic.