Ex-pres Yameen found guilty in Aarah case

Former President Abdullah Yameen has been convicted of bribery in the Aarah corruption case.

The State raised money laundering and bribery against the former president, alleging that he deposited funds from the sale of V. Aarah to his personal account and laundered the funds. According to the charges, Yameen accepted a bribe of $1 million from former MP Yoosuf Naeem, who is being tried on bribery charges alongside Yameen. The trial began at the Criminal Court on January 2, and hearings in the trial concluded earlier this year.

The Criminal Court held a hearing on Sunday morning to deliver a verdict on the case.

In his verdict, the judge ruled President Yameen was guilty of the charges. He said that it is questionable that the money that documents show was deposited to Yameen's account from Yoosuf Naeem's account should have been deposited to Yameen's account while he was the President of the Maldives. Even if the funds are considered political donations for campaigns, the financial accounts of Yameen's party, the Progressive Party of Maldives (PPM), do not reflect that the funds were spent for political purposes, the judge said. The ruling also stated that the money received for political activities should be handled through candidates' agents as per the law.

The prosecution is seeking the maximum penalty for the conviction due to Yameen's position as head of State at the time of the crime. The prosecution requested 11 years in prison and a six-fold increase in the fine. However, as the law states that the fine can be increased up to five-fold at the maximum, the State requested to impose the maximum amount as a fine as under the law.

While the court also found Yoosuf Naeem guilty of bribery, the prosecution also asked for the maximum penalty for the former MP.

Lawyers for President Yameen and Yoosuf Naeem asked for ten days to speak on the sentence. However, the judge adjourned the hearing shortly after announcing that the hearing would resume at 2:00 pm to decide on the sentence. The judge said the case would be concluded today.