MMPRC Corruption: Ziyath agrees to plead guilty for 32 charges under plea deal

Former Managing Director of Maldives Marketing and Public Relations Corporation (MMPRC), Abdulla Ziyath has agreed to plead guilty to 32 charges raised against him under a plea deal with the state. Ziyath also agreed to cooperate with the police and the state in its investigation into the MMPRC corruption scandal.

Ziyath agreed to plead guilty in return for a reduced sentence at an appeal hearing held Monday at the Supreme Court regarding the Criminal Court's decision to jail him for eight years over the unlawful leasing of Lh. Maabinhuraa island.

During Monday’s hearing, the judge noted that a written request had been filed by Ziyath to withdraw the appeal petition, and that the letter had stated that the request was made due to a plea agreement with the Prosecutor General’s Office.

The Judge questioned Ziyath regarding the letter, and asked him if the request to withdraw the case was made under duress. He was asked if he was aware of the outcomes of sending such a letter, and reminded that withdrawing the case would mean giving up his right to appeal the case.

In his response, Zitath said he was aware that withdrawing the case would mean he can no longer appeal the case in the future, and that he was not making the decision under duress. He is aware of the outcome of sending such a letter, said Ziyath.

Speaking during the hearing, the state said the plea deal with Ziyath was reached with the involvement of the Prosecutor General’s Office, the Anti-Corruption Commission, Maldives Police Service and the Corruption and Asset Recovery Commission. In this regard, Ziyath has now confessed to all 32 charges against him, said the state attorney. Therefore, the state has no objections to Ziyath withdrawing the appeal petition, said the state.

An eight year jail sentence was handed to Ziyath by the Criminal Court after he was found guilty of misappropriating USD five million paid to MMPRC as acquisition cost for Maabinhuraa Island. When the verdict was challenged in the High Court, the High Court also concluded that the Criminal Court’s verdict was correct. While Ziyath is currently serving the sentence, he has been under house arrest since February 2019.