''No legal basis for post-conviction bail in Pres. Yameen's case''

Former President Yameen is seen waving after boarding a speedboat of Corrections Services to be taken back to prison after a court hearing in his appeal case on January 28, 2020. (Sun Photo/Fayaz Moosa)

The Prosecutor General’s Office has stated that there was no legal basis prescribed in the law for the release of convicted prisoners on bail.

The PG office's assertment comes after the former President Abdulla Yameen’s defense team had requested for his release on bail after being convicted of money laundering. The former President is serving a five-year sentence.

The prosecution agreed with the former President’s lawyers Abdulla Siyaaz and Dr. Mohamed Jameel Ahmed that bail was available in cases where the defendant had not been convicted. The disagreement arose in cases of convicted prisoners.

The defense stated that previous High Court rulings had stated bail was available in such cases. The defense took the famous cases former President Maumoon Abdul Gayoom, his son Faris Maumoon and leader of JP and Maamigili MP Qasim Ibrahim who had all been released on bail after being convicted. The High Court’s actions had created a precedent despite the lack of legal basis, according to Dr. Jameel who also stated that the practice was allowed in other countries. The defense also took examples from cases in Indian courts including the Supreme Court of India.

The prosecution argued that the cases were regarding defendants accused of a crime and not convicted of one. Prosecutor Aishath Mohamed argued that the practice of “post-conviction bail” was not allowed or practiced in the Maldives or any other country.

Dr. Jameel and the defense team also noted that since the former President was an opposition leader, it was hard for him to hold the government responsible and accountable while imprisoned and that his release was one of “public interest”.

The prosecution countered this argument by saying that once convicted of a crime, the party leader is no longer designated as the leader and was not recognized so in the law. Prosecutor Aishath Mohamed also received the ire of Yameen’s supporters inside the court when she stated that a responsible political party would be able to elect a new leader.

The issue of bail and sentence will be decided in the next hearing after which the appeal case will be commenced.