Opposition: Yameen prosecuted by PG with conflicting interests, charge invalid

PNC leader Abdul Raheem Abdulla (C) at a press conference on July 20, 2020. (Photo/PPM)

The opposition coalition said on Monday that Prosecutor General Hussain Shameem’s prior legal representation of suspects in the MMPRC graft case presents conflict of interest, making the money laundering charge against former Maldivian President Abdulla Yameen Abdul Gayoom in connection to the case invalid.

The remark follows a case submitted to the Bar Council on Sunday, alleging that Shameem acting as the chief prosecutor in the MMPRC case in light of his prior legal representation of key suspects in the case; former MMPRC Managing Director Abdulla Ziyath, former Maldivian Vice President Ahmed Adeeb Abdul Gafoor and Mohamed Hussain (Oittey) presents grounds for conflict of interest and constitutes to judicial misconduct.

Shameem has stated that he provided prior legal representation to Ziyath and Oittey, but had recused himself from their cases after his appointment as Prosecutor General. He said that all decisions pertaining to their cases are made by the Deputy Prosecutor General.

He also stated that he provided legal representation to Adeeb in the presidential speedboat explosion case, and had not provided legal representation to him in the MMPRC case, because his law license had been suspended.

At a press conference by the opposition coalition, composed of PPM and PNC, PNC leader Abdul Raheem Abdulla said Shameem needs to recuse himself from all MMPRC cases, because he had provided legal representation to Ziyath.

“If Hussain Shameem wishes to do this in accordance with the law, then he needs to recuse himself from the entire case. It’s unacceptable that he recuses himself from a case against a particular person but remain involved in cases against others. We believe that providing legal representation to one of those involved means providing legal representation to all involved,” he said.

“Ziyath signed each and every cheque that went out of MMPRC. Therefore, every missing cent went wherever it went with his signature. We therefore do not believe there to be any way to avoid conflict of interest from someone who represented Ziyath other than to recuse himself from the entire MMPRC case.”

Abdul Raheem said that while Shameem claimed he hadn’t provided legal representation to Adeeb in the MMPRC case, there were video clips of him representing Adeeb in press conferences.

He accused Shameem of lying.

Abdul Raheem said Yameen’s prosecution had been headed by a Prosecutor General, who had conflict of interest in the case. He said Yameen had been illegally charged using confidential information exchanged between a lawyer and his clients.

He said that it therefore made the charge against Yameen illegal at its very inception, and that the former president should be immediately released from prison.

“We are demanding that the charge against him be declared invalid immediately, and to not wrong him so,” he said.

In the case submitted to the Bar Council, Shameem has also been accused of charging exorbitant fees for representing the suspects in the MMPRC case, and of knowing the fees were being paid from funds embezzled from MMPRC. He has also been accused of travelling to the UK to take a statement from Oittey, and of being paid with GBP 20,000 through SOF Private Limited – the company believed to have laundered the funds embezzled from MMPRC – to cover his expenses during the trip.

Shameem has denied these allegations.

At Monday’s press conference Abdul Raheem called for an investigation into the allegations, and said he wished for Adeeb and Ziyath to clarify how much they had paid Shameem for his legal representation.

Opposition leaders also demanded Shameem’s resignation, citing lack of confidence in receiving justice in the MMPRC case with him serving as the Prosecutor General.

“It’s not enough that Hussain Shameem recuses himself from this. Hussain Shameem needs to hand in his resignation immediately. And if he fails to resign, the person who appointed him as Prosecutor General, or the President or the Parliament, needs to dismiss him. We do not believe the MMPRC case can be carried forward in accordance with the law for as long as Hussain Shameem continues to remain in that post,” said Abdul Raheem.

Bar Council has yet to announce whether it will accept or reject the case against Shameem.