Ex-President Yameen’s trial to resume on November 17

Former President Abdulla Yameen Abdul Gayoom. (File Photo/Sun/Ahmed Awshan Ilyas)

The Criminal Court has scheduled a hearing in former Maldivian President Abdulla Yameen Abdul Gayoom’s money laundering trial for November 17.

Yameen’s legal representatives confirmed this to Sun this Thursday morning. According to them, the papers served by the court reads that the trial will be conducted under the charge of the Chief Judge’s section.

The Criminal Court had previously been scheduled to deliver its sentence in the high-profile case on Tuesday, November 5. However, the hearing was cancelled after the presiding judge, Chief Judge of Criminal Court Ahmed Hailam was placed under probationary suspension for 60 days by the Judicial Service Commission over alleged ethical misconduct, mere hours ahead of the hearing.

Judge Ali Rasheed has been appointed the Acting Chief Judge following Hailam’s suspension.

Ali Rasheed was transferred to the Criminal Court in February 2019, prior to which he served at the Drug Court.

Article 152 of Criminal Procedure Code allows a judge from the same court to take over trials in the event a presiding judge is rendered incapable of presiding over said trial. It also allows the option of a fresh trial with a new judge.

In the event that Hailam is dismissed, the trial will be assigned over to a new judge, who will have the prerogative to call a fresh trial if he so wishes.

The Criminal Court’s decision regarding how it will proceed with the former president’s trial is unclear at this point.

Hailam was initially placed under inquiry over a cartoon which he shared over the messaging app, Viber, to a group created for the staff of the Criminal Court on occasion of Victory Day, November 3, which depicted President Ibrahim Mohamed Solih and Speaker of Parliament, former President Mohamed Nasheed, as well as a number of other politicians, in shackles.

Chief Judge of Criminal Court, Ahmed Hailam pictured at the Supreme Court's 10th anniversary function on October 31, 2018. (File Photo/Sun/Fayaz Moosa)

Hailam later released a statement in which he apologized for sharing the cartoon. He said that he hadn’t been aware that the President and Speaker had also been depicted on the cartoon, and had shared it because it depicted Abdulla Luthfee – the mastermind behind the coup attempt of November 3, 1988.

Newer, far more serious allegations have come to light following his suspension. JSC announced last Wednesday that it is also conducting an inquiry into a MVR 200,000 deposit made by politician Alham Fahmy to Hailam on May 19.

Alham has denied the allegation that the MVR 200,000 had been a bribe, and said that it had merely been a loan.

Former President Yameen is on trial for money laundering after USD 1 million in acquisition cost for G. A. Vodamulla ended up in one of his personal bank accounts.