Opposition: Shakeel’s appointment to High Court direct impediment to Yameen’s appeal

PNC leader Abdul Raheem Abdulla (C) speaks during a press conference by the PPM-PNC coalition on March 6, 2023. (Photo/PPM)

The decision by Judicial Service Commission (JSC) to appoint former Criminal Court chief judge Ahmed Shakeel – who issued the 11-year prison sentence against former president Abdulla Yameen Abdul Gayoom – to the High Court, is a direct impediment to his appeal with the court, alleges the opposition coalition, composed of Progressive Party of Maldives (PPM) and People’s National Congress (PNC).

In a press conference Monday, PNC’s leader Abdul Raheem Abdulla said he found the decision to appoint Shakeel to the High Court with complete disregard of the misconduct allegations lodged against him with the JSC unacceptable.

He said that PPM lawyers had lodged two cases against Shakeel, none of which have been investigated.

“Without providing a response to these two cases, they decided to appoint him to the High Court. This proves government influence in the conviction against President Yameen. We have been repeatedly saying this. Otherwise, they would have at least given a response before making this decision. Then they themselves would be able to justify that they look into cases lodged with them,” he said.

Abdul Raheem described Shakeel’s move to High Court as a door opened to directly influence Yameen’s appeal.

He said that judges were bound to be pressured, and that he does not believe Shakeel makes just rulings.

“Though its just us five here today, there are more of us in our leadership. They have a say in the decisions made by the leadership. And they can make us see different perspectives. They can exude influence. Isn’t it the same in courts? We do not, for even one moment, believe Shakeel is someone who makes just judgements,” he said.

Yameen was sentenced to 11 years in prison and fined USD 5 million on December 25, 2022, after he was found guilty of money laundering and bribery in connection to the sale of V. Aarah for resort development.

Yameen, who is the opposition PPM-PNC coalition’s presidential candidate, needs to win the appeal in order to be eligible for the presidential election in September.

The sentence against him had come a year after he was acquitted after getting convicted of similar charges in 2019.