Former President Abdulla Yameen Abdul Gayyoom has called on his supporters to not worry about his money laundering trial, and assured that he would win the trial.
President Yameen is accused of defying an agreement between himself and the Anti-Corruption Commission, which stipulated the former president to move funds in his Maldives Islamic Bank (MIB) account that are suspected of having being laundered, into an escrow account set up between the two parties. Yameen is accused of attempting to cover up the source and trail of the original funds in his MIB account in an attempt to launder the funds.
Speaking at an opposition rally held by the Progressive Coalition on Friday night, the former president said the charges against him were purely political and that there were no concerns on the matter. Yameen acknowledged his supporters' concern that he may be jailed over the charges, and requested the members not to worry about the trial.
Yameen said while he has not committed any crime, the citizens of the country believe his innocence. However, some parties refuse to accept this fact, which has resulted in the presiding judge over his case being suspended in the last minute, he said. He urged his supporters not to worry about his fate, and asserted his belief that the trial would conclude in his favor.
President Yameen repeated his accusations that senior government officials had attempted to influence Criminal Court's Chief Judge Ahmed Hailam who was overseeing his trial. Yameen also stated that the government could not 'digest' the fair and just verdict set to be delivered by the judge, and therefore suspended the judge before the verdict could be delivered.
"There is no reason for the President's Chief of Staff to make a call to the judge to ensure that a fair verdict will be delivered. There is no reason to call up the judge. Therefore, even the President believes that a fair verdict was written. However the issue is that it was hard for them to accept the prepared verdict," Yameen said.
The former president requested to his supporters to continue working for reform even if he was found guilty and has to step away from the party.
"If it is in god's wills that I should get convicted, please believe that this is a temporary test. However, you all should gear up to carry on our work to the next level and strengthen it [even in my absence]", Yameen appealed
Criminal Court Judge Ahmed Hailam was suspended earlier this month by the Judicial Service Commission (JSC) mere hours before a verdict was set to be delivered on President Yameen's money laundering trial, over a controversial Victory Day greeting sent by the judge.
The image shared by Judge Hailam to a social network group depicted the Victory Day hero, Martyr Hussain Adam dragging President Ibrahim Mohamed Solih and Parliament Speaker former president Mohamed Nasheed and those convicted for the November 3, 1988 terror attack by a chain locked around their necks.
While the hearing scheduled for November 5 was cancelled following Judge Hailam's suspension, a new hearing has been scheduled for November 17. A bench comprising of five judges has been formed to preside over the case.