Criminal Court gives order to facilitate meeting between Yameen, lawyers

Maldives Correctional Service has been ordered to arrange private meetings between jailed former president Abdulla Yameen Abdul Gayyoom and his legal team.

The Prosecutor General recently raised two new charges of bribery and money laundering against Yameen. He has been charged with corruption offences relating to the leasing of R. Fushidhiggaru island to be developed as a resort island. While the preliminary hearing was held on Sunday at the Criminal Court, the former president’s legal team expressed concern that his lawyers were not allowed to meet with him in private.

Lead counsel, former Vice President Dr. Mohamed Jameel Ahmed said lawyers have been unable to meet with Yameen to discuss the new charges, in addition to the appeal hearing that is currently ongoing. While the necessary forms were submitted at Maldives Correctional Service over multiple occasions, the forms were not accepted, he noted.

State attorneys during Sunday’s preliminary hearing said the former president’s lawyers had made only one requests for a private meeting between June 8 and August 5. The request was made on August 4, and Maldives Correction Service instructed to obtain all necessary documention and submit the required documentation. The legal team was informed that once the process is completed, meeting arrangements will be facilitated at Maafushi Prison on Monday, said the state.

When asked to speak regarding the charges, the state requested the court to confirm if Yameen received all documents related to the case, noting that additional documents had been sent at a later time.

In his response, the former president said he had not recieved any documents related to the case, and that it is difficult to comment without knowing his charges in detail. Although the document may have been handed over to his lawyers, no meetings between his lawyers and himself have taken place in over 1.5 months, he said.

While the state had stated that additional documents have been forwarded, Yameen’s lawyers said the documents will need to be viewed before proceeding with the case. Dr. Jameel said the defense wishes to proceed with the hearings only after private meetings are arranged with the legal tram. The judge then said a court order will be issued sometime Sunday to Maldives Correctional Service to facilitate the meeting. The hearing was then concluded, with the judge stating that the next hearing will be scheduled 10 to 15 days after Yameen is allowed to meet with his lawyers.

President Yameen is alleged to have received bribes amounting to US$ 1,117,000 through an individual named Ahmed Krik Riza, and is accused of laundering the funds via Sun Construction and Engineering, and Sun Investments. The Prosecutor General's Office said the charges were forwarded to the Criminal Court following a joint investigation by the police, Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) and the Presidential Commission on State Assets Recovery.

The Prosecutor General's Office said the state is working to recover US$ 38,689,425 in the case, including the US$ 1,349,885 involved in the crime as well as US$ 2,295,250 that was obtained through criminal activity, and an additional fine of US$ 34,689,425.

Former President Yameen is currently serving a five-year sentence after being found guilty of money laundering in relation to the MMPRC corruption case. The appeal trial is currently ongoing.