State to challenge High Court decision on appeal regarding Ammaty's release

The State will be challenging the High Court's decision to dismiss an appeal filed regarding the release of SeaLife Global's Managing Director Ahmed 'Ammaty' Moosa, at the Supreme Court.

Ahmed Moosa was arrested in February 2021 in neighboring Sri Lanka, where he was on the run for over two years after defrauding many people out of millions by stealing the booking fees paid for a proposed apartment complex in Hulhumale. A red notice to locate Ahmed Moosa was issued in 2019 by Interpol after he went on the run, and he was extradited to the Maldives in March 2021 following his arrest. The State raised 42 charges against him, and cases against Ahmed Moosa were filed at the Criminal Court on May 30, 2021.

Since his arrest in 2021, Ahmed Moosa has been released three times, most recently in March this year. Following the Criminal Court's latest decision to release him, the State filed an appeal with the High Court. However, the High Court on Wednesday dismissed the appeal, stating that the State had filed the appeal after the window for appeal had expired.

While a 48-hour window is granted to appeal a lower court order at a higher court, the Court said the law states that the day on which an event occurred and ended is excluded when calculating the appeal window. However, the law does not state how the hours must be counted, it said. Therefore, the time must be counted from the moment the court order was issued, the Court detailed.

The High Court said although Ahmed Moosa was released on March 20, the State filed the appeal on March 23, by which time the 48-hour window had already expired.

Speaking on the matter, Prosecutor General Hussain Shameem Thursday said as per the Criminal Procedure Code, the appeal window will be counted, excluding the day the Court ruled on a matter in the first stage, the day on which the appeal window ends, and any government holidays that are in between, with regard to Section 198 of the Act. Therefore, the date on which the State filed the appeal at the High Court falls within the window stated in the Act, he said.

'The High Court's opinion that the law does not state how to count the appeal window is incorrect. It does state how to calculate the window for appeal cases. Even if it is in relation to a day or hour, the appeal window will be calculated in the way I mentioned if it is an appeal case, excluding the day the Court ruled on a matter in the first stage and the day on which the appeal window ends,' Shameem said.

The PG further noted that the same method was practiced in the past in calculating the appeal period, even by the High Court judges who ruled on the case. He said both the High Court and the Supreme Court have also issued rulings based on the same policy. Therefore, the High Court's decision will be appealed at the Supreme Court sometime today, he added.

The State's appeal was dismissed by a High Court bench that comprised of Judges Abdulla Hameed, Mohamed Niyaz, and Hassan Shafeeu.