Supreme Court orders High Court to hear appeal against SeaLife MD

The Supreme Court has overturned the High Court ruling, which dismissed the appeal filed by the State over the release of SeaLife Globa's Managing Director Ahmed 'Ammaty' Moosa.

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, earlier this month, the High Court dismissed the appeal, stating that the State had filed the appeal after the window for appeal had expired. The State challenged the ruling and filed an appeal at the Supreme Court.

In a hearing held Monday, the Supreme Court said while the State is granted less than seven days to appeal cases of this nature, the weekends and public holidays that occur within the period are not counted.

As per Article 198 d) of the Criminal Procedure Act, the appeal window begins from the date an order is issued and closes within 48 hours. Judge Mahaz Ali Zahir, in his stance, said while the day at 0000 hrs as per the law, the 48-hour window must be counted from the time the lower court passed its judgment. The relevant rules and regulations cannot trump Article 198 d) of the Criminal Procedure Act, Judge Mahaz Ali Zahir said.

However, the court ruled that the State had counted the appeal period correctly as it was calculated before the Supreme Court ruled on the relevance of the rules in calculating the appeal window, and said the High Court must therefore hear the case.