The High Court will commence on Wednesday hearing former President Abdulla Yameen and former Parliament member Yoosuf Naeem’s appeal against bribery and money laundering convictions. The potential outcome of the appeal holds significant importance for Yameen, who is currently serving an 11-year jail sentence for accepting bribes and engaging in money laundering related to the leasing of Aarah Island, Vaavu Atoll.

Seeking an expedited trial, Yameen had previously requested the court to prioritise his case. The outcome of this appeal holds potential implications for Yameen’s eligibility to contest the upcoming presidential election. According to electoral regulations, a criminal conviction acts as a barrier to running for office. Hence, the opposition Progressive Party of Maldives (PPM) is also urging a prompt resolution, as they view this as an opportunity for Yameen to participate in the upcoming elections.

It has been reported that the government’s alleged influence on the High Court judges, leading to their absence through forced leave, has fueled suspicions of an intentional delay in the appeal process to prevent Yameen from participating in the elections. However, the government has denied any interference in the affairs of independent institutions, refuting these allegations.

In addition to the ongoing legal proceedings related to the Aarah Island case, Yameen is also facing trial in the Criminal Court on charges of bribery and money laundering pertaining to the lease of Fuggiri Island, Raa Atoll for resort development in 2015. Multiple hearings for this case have been scheduled for the coming days, including tomorrow, as well as the 6th, 9th, 11th, and 13th of this month.

As the appeal hearing in the High Court approaches, the outcome will have far-reaching consequences for Yameen’s political future, potentially impacting his eligibility to participate in the presidential election.