Jailed opposition leader, former Abdulla Yameen Abdul Gayyoom, on Thursday, has requested to expedite the appeal of his 11-year prison sentence.
Criminal Court sentenced Yameen to 11 years in prison on December 25, 2022, after finding him guilty of money laundering and bribery charges in connection to the sale of V. Aarah for resort development. He also received a fine of USD 5 million.
Yameen appealed both his prison sentence and the fine to the High Court, where the proceedings are now underway.
Speaking during a hearing held on Thursday after the case remained stalled for days once a judge on the bench presiding over the appeal went on leave – Yameen stressed he faces great difficulties in serving his sentence at the Maafushi Prison.
Therewith, he urged to expedite the appeal, without any further delay.
“I do have some physical disabilities. Am not in my youth. The opportunity to do exercises recommended by my doctor no longer exists in Maafushi,” he said.
Yameen, citing he has back pains, said his doctor has recommended water exercises. However, the former president stressed the commencement of the reclamation project at Maafushi has snatched the opportunity for him to go swimming.
“I do not go to the hospital, not because I do not have to. I am refraining from going to the hospital for admission because I can feel the sorrow of my family. Because my family would worry more if I were admitted there. If not, I would have requested to facilitate my stay at the hospital,” he said.
Yameen described the Criminal Court’s judgment as an “unjust” punishment.
“I am being punished for something I have not done. By the will of God, I will prove this in the course of this High Court, through my arguments,” he said.
He pledged to change him to home confinement till the end of his appeal, emphasizing the arrangement has no detriment to the state.
“What detriment is there to the state, should I be changed to home confinement? Once the appeal process is over, the judgment will be enforced, yeah? But there are easements I get out of this,” he stressed.
Yameen, at High Court, has also requested a stay of execution order of the Criminal Court’s judgment.
He noted that if the fine payment if made before the appeal concludes, he would have to seek the money lost through a civil proceeding again. Underscoring such a proceeding is likely to be consuming, he stressed he believes the best course of action is postponing the enforcement of the judgment till the conclusion of the appeal.
“I am saying, having to stay in jail, while the appeal proceedings are ongoing, is a huge burden on me,” he added.
Yameen was unable to contest this year’s presidential election as the appeal proceeding was ongoing. Although he initially urged the opposition PPM-PNC coalition to boycott the election after the Supreme Court deemed him ineligible to contest, he later endorsed PNC’s presidential candidate, Male’ City Mayor Dr. Mohamed Muizzu.