Former President Abdulla Yameen Abdul Gayoom’s appeal against his bribery and money laundering convictions is nearing its conclusion at the High Court. The case, stemming from their involvement in the Maldives Marketing and Public Relations Corporation (MMPRC) corruption scandal, specifically relates to the leasing of Aarah in Vaavu Atoll for resort development.

Yameen, who leads the Progressive Party of Maldives-People’s National Congress (PPM-PNC) coalition, was sentenced to 11 years in prison and fined US$5 million on charges of money laundering and accepting US$1.1 million in kickbacks in the resort lease transaction. His conviction barred him from contesting in the recent presidential election, despite initially being awarded the coalition’s ticket. Additionally, Yameen faces separate bribery and money laundering charges in another case concerning the lease of Fuggiri, Raa Atoll, which is currently ongoing.

Former MP Yoosuf Naeem, Yameen’s co-defendant in the Aarah case, was also convicted and sentenced to three years, two months, and 12 days in prison for bribery. Both Yameen and Naeem’s convictions are now under scrutiny at the High Court, where their lawyers have raised concerns about procedural issues during the original trial. They argue that the Criminal Court’s actions, particularly the acceptance of new evidence by the prosecution after the closure of the evidence submission phase, infringed upon their clients’ fundamental rights.

The appellants’ arguments at the hearings, which have spanned over three hours each, have centered around these procedural issues. Naeem’s lawyer, Hamza Latheef, contended that the court should have allowed the submission of this evidence after closing statements and that the judge should carefully consider the inclusion of this new evidence on record.

The final hearing in the appeal is set to involve 30 minutes for each side to present final arguments on the bribery charge and an additional hour for closing statements on the money laundering charge. Following this, the High Court is expected to deliver its judgment on the case.