Former President Abdulla Yameen has denied instructing anyone to lease an island outside the rules. He faces bribery and money laundering charges in the Fuggiri case. Yameen and his close associate Ahmed Kurik Riza faced allegations of accepting $1 million in bribes for leasing the island and subsequently laundering the money.
“I know, that as President, I did not instruct anyone to give any islands to any particular person. I need the documents to prove that, and these documents are in the state,” Yameen explained at the Supreme Court hearing. The former President also stated that island allocations for tourism purposes are carried out under a gazetted rule. He emphasised that it is not the President’s Office’s responsibility and that the Ministry of Tourism handles all island allocations.
The prosecution has submitted former Vice President Ahmed Adheeb and former Managing Director of the Maldives Marketing and Public Relations Corporation (MMPRC) Abdullah Ziyath as witnesses. Additionally, the prosecution has requested to resubmit some evidence under the Evidence Act.
The Supreme Court adjourned the case trial until next Monday after Yameen sought an adjournment. The Criminal Court was scheduled to hear the case today. However, Yameen filed an appeal against some of the decisions made in the previous motions of the trial. The apex court on Sunday ordered an adjournment of the case until Monday next week.
Yameen cited his lack of preparation, as the lower court tried to expedite the case. Three or four witnesses are scheduled to testify every day. The former President stated that he was unable to consult with his lawyers adequately.
Yameen’s Conviction and Appeal in Corruption Case
The Criminal Court had previously found Yameen guilty of corruption and money laundering on November 8, 2019. He was sentenced to five years in prison. In addition, he was fined $5 million for money laundering and other charges related to the embezzlement of funds from the state-owned tourism agency, MMPRC. The High Court upheld the sentence in January 2021.
However, on June 29, 2021, the Supreme Court of the Maldives ruled in favour of Yameen’s appeal case and ordered his release. This was after he spent two years and two days in jail.
On December 25, 2022, the Maldives Criminal Court sentenced Yameen to 11 years in prison and fined him $5 million for corruption and money laundering charges. This was related to receiving kickbacks from a private company in the lease of Vaavu Atoll in Aarah. Yameen is currently serving his sentence in Maafushi Prison.
Yameen appealed his 11-year jail sentence in the High Court. But the hearing has not yet started in the case.
Yameen’s previous conviction and current trial are part of a wider corruption crackdown in the MMPRC scandal. The scandal involved over $70 million and has seen several high-profile figures, including former Vice President Ahmed Adeeb and former MMPRC Managing Director Abdullah Ziyath, convicted on similar charges.
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