State seeks order to withhold ex-pres Yameen's passport

The Prosecutor General's Office has requested the Criminal Court for a travel ban order pending outcome of his money-laundering trial.

A hearing was held Monday at the Criminal Court, where the state prosecutor requested the court to issue an order to withhold the former president's passport.

The police last week requested the Prosecutor General's Office to seek a similar order when the Supreme Court on November 30 overturned a Criminal Court ruling that convicted him of money laundering. The court issued a travel ban valid for seven days. As the expiry date is approaching, the Prosecutor General's Office seeks an extension on the ban until the end of trial.

Speaking in court on Monday, the state prosecutor said there is enough evidence that would implicate Yameen, in addition to evidence that points to Yameen preparing to leave the country. As Yameen has previously served as the country's president, it would be challenging to extradite him in the circumstance that he feels the country, he said.

However, the former president's lawyer, Abdulla Shiyaz, denied the claims and that the forms submitted by the prosecution were shared with the defense at the hearing. He said that the defense wishes to review the evidence that points to Yameen plotting to leave the country.

Yameen himself requested the bench to allow him to review the evidence filed against him, along with his legal team. He said there are no grounds for the police to make such an accusation against him.

The state said it did not submit the evidence of Yameen plotting to leave the country when they submitted their forms. However, other evidence submitted shows Yameen is a flight risk, the state said.

The defense requested to grant a period of two weeks to review the documents. However, as the request to withhold Yameen's passport was previously submitted by the police, and as there have been no new developments since then, the prosecution requested a decision to be made on the same day.

The presiding judge, Ahmed Shakeel, also said two weeks is not an appropriate amount of time and that a decision would be made on the matter later today. A follow-up hearing has been scheduled for 4:00 pm.

The state has charged Yameen with money laundering and accepting bribes through misuse of power. The prosecution claims President Yameen acquired USD 1,117,000 through the influence of his position. According to the state, Yameen received the funds from the sale of Fuggiri island through Ahmed Krik Riza and laundered the funds through Sun Construction and Engineering and Sun Investment.