Appeal court orders review of dismissed case of ex-VP Adeeb

Former Vice President Ahmed Adeeb.

The High Court of Maldives has ordered to review the case of former Vice President Ahmed Adeeb after the Criminal Court dismissed the seven charges against him.

The appeal court ordered a review of the case after the state prosecution appealed the case. The charges stem from an ACC, Police, and Presidential Commission investigation into the massive MMPRC scandal.

Adeeb is accused of embezzlement and participation in the scandal, graft charges as well as the misuse of official capacity, undue influence, money laundering, and obtainment of unfair advantages. 

The High Court bench which accepted the appeal case consists of udges Mohamed Niyaz, Shuaib Hussain Zakariyya, and Hussain Mazeed. 

The High Court made its decision after holding three hearings, ordering the Criminal Court to retry the case.

The Criminal Court had cited the main reason for the decision to dismiss the seven charges as the failure to establish the legitimacy of the plea bargain between Adeeb and the Prosecutor General’s Office, but the High Court noted in its ruling that neither Adeeb, nor the Prosecutor General’s Office had ever denied the plea bargain.

“The role of a judge with regard to such an agreement during preliminary hearings is to determine whether such an agreement was made. And if it is said that such an agreement was made, to state that the defendant has the right to redact his confession and deny the charges. And if such an agreement exists, to determine whether the court will accept or reject the agreement,” said the High Court.

The High Court said that the decision of the judge who oversaw the preliminary hearings to allow for the prosecution and defense to submit evidence and make their arguments to establish the legitimacy of such an agreement or to determine the basis of the agreement was similar to pouring water into a bottomless pail. The court said that it was pointless debate over a subject that requires no legal debate.

“Therefore, the decision by the lower court to dismiss the seven charges after determining the manner in which the plea bargain between the Prosecutor General and the respondent Ahmed Adeeb Abdul Gafoor was reached isn’t based on sound procedure,” ruled the High Court.

The High Court also said that no further motions may be presented before establishing whether the defendant pleads guilty or innocent to the charges.

“Since the lower court made its decision regarding the charges that are under appeal before determining whether the defendant confesses to or denies the charges, it is clear the decisions were made base on an invalid procedure,” said the High Court.

Judge Ismail Rasheed, who had presided over the case at the Criminal Court, had been placed under two month suspension in the aftermath of his decision to dismiss the case, after the Prosecutor General’s Office lodged complaints against him with Judicial Service Commission (JSC). While the investigation remains ongoing, his two-month suspension expired and he reported back to work this Monday.