Opposition calls for panel of judges to oversee ex-pres Yameen's trial

Opposing Progressive Party of Maldives (PPM) and Peoples National Congress (PNC) have expressed concern that former president Abdulla Yameen Abdul Gayyoom's money laundering trial is being overseen by a single judge.

At a press conference held by the two parties affiliated with Yameen on Saturday, the opposition suggested having a panel of judges oversee the former president's trial, accusing that the trial is politically influenced at present.

Deputy leader of PNC, Moohamed Saeed said government entities have always had the authority to investigate even the most senior officials of the government if an illegal offence is committed. However, the intentions behind pursuing a case against Yameen several months after his administration ended is questionable, said Saeed,

"We have our suspicions because the people who were heads of these entities then are now coming forward with accusations against President Yameen after his tenure has ended. Their actions show that political influences have affected the case and tainted it", said Saeed.

Saeed further said the opposition is not concerned that a trial is being conducted, however, they are advocating for a fair trial, said Saeed.

While the opposition does not believe it it right for just one judge to oversee Yameen's trial, Saeed said this is not the policy that has been followed in overseeing other such cases involving previous presidents.

Vice President of PNC, Ibrahim Sujau said trials have been conducted on previous presidents, however, a bench comprised of many judges always oversaw the cases.

The first hearing in President Yameen's money laundering trial was televised live on local channels. Chief Judge of he Criminal Court Ahmed Hailam presided over the bench.

"We believe this trial has been designed in a specific way. One thing is clear: The charges raised against President Yameen are political motivated and highly influenced", said Deputy Leader of PPM Ahmed Shiyam.