Ex-President Yameen requests shorter hearings, citing back problems

Former Maldivian President Abdulla Yameen Abdul Gayoom waves as opposition protesters gathered outside his residence for a rally on September 10, 2021. (Sun Photo/Fayaz Moosa)

Former Maldivian President Abdulla Yameen Abdul Gayoom has requested the court to shorten hearings, citing difficulty in sitting down for long periods of time due to issues with his back.

 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 began appeal proceedings last week.

At a hearing this Thursday morning, Yameen told the court he has serious medical issues with his back, and finds it very difficult to sit in a chair for long periods of time. 

“I have been informed that the hearings scheduled up ahead are for approximately five hours each day. A session in the morning, a one-hour break, and then to come and sit again for two hours. I therefore ask sincerely that you take this into account,” he said. 

Opening Thursday’s hearing, Justice Mahaz Ali Zahir – who leads the three-member bench hearing the appeal – said that six hours of hearings had been held in the case so far, and that he does not believe the case is proceeding at sufficient speed. 

“Approximately 11 out of 22 points of appeal are now over. I don’t want to say this speed is that good. Looking at the details of points of appeal, there are some 156 pages on the appeal form,” he said. 

Mahaz asked Yameen how he wishes for the hearings to be organized before ending the morning session and calling a one-hour recess. 

Yameen asked the court to hold a single session a day, that does not last more than three hours. 

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.

He was recently reprimanded by Maldives Correctional Service for violating the terms of his home confinement by taking part in a rally staged by the opposition last weekend.