Judicial Service Commission (JSC) has opened an investigation into allegations of influence made in leaked audio recordings of conversations allegedly by three of the five judges on the Criminal Court bench which convicted former Maldivian President Abdulla Yameen Abdul Gayoom of money laundering in 2019.
In the audio recordings, which have yet to be verified, the judges make comments that suggest the current administration influenced Yameen’s trial.
JSC convened for an emergency meeting on Monday morning, during which it decided to open an investigation into the case.
JSC said in a press statement on Monday afternoon that a committee has begun investigating the case.
The commission said it is working on clarifying information from the judges this Monday.
Yameen’s trial was originally assigned to then-chief judge Ahmed Hailam, but he was suspended at the last minute and a five-judge bench was established to hear the case. The bench was composed of Judge Hussain Faiz Rashad, Judge Ali Rasheed Hussain, Judge Mohamed Sameer, Judge Ahmed Shakeel, and Judge Ali Adam.
In one of the audio recordings – reportedly of Faiz – he says that the sentence against Yameen was issued by holding the judges hostage.
The issue of the audio recordings sparked heated exchanges at the Parliament earlier this Monday, forcing the suspension of the sitting. Opposition parliamentarians later went to the President’s Office to demand answers.
Yameen was found guilty of laundering USD 1 million from the sale of GA. Vodamula by the Criminal Court on November 28, 2019. He was sentenced to 5 years in prison and fined USD 5 million. Yameen promptly appealed the conviction with the High Court, which sided against him and ruled to uphold the original sentence on January 21, 2021.
He subsequently appealed the conviction with the Supreme Court, which is scheduled to begin appeal proceedings in September.
Yameen was serving his sentence in Maafushi Prison, but was transferred to home confinement following an outbreak of COVID-19 at the prison in April.