Chief Judge: Cannot livestream hearings in Yameen’s case due to lack of resources

Former President Abdulla Yameen Abdul Gayoom waves at supporters as he is escorted to the Supreme Court on November 30, 2021. (Sun Photo/Ahmed Aiman Ali)

It has been decided that the hearings in the money laundering case against former President Abdulla Yameen Abdul Gayyoom in connection to the sale of V. Aarah for resort development – will not be livestreamed due to lack of resources.

At a hearing of the case held today, Criminal Court’s Chief Judge Ahmed Shakeel who is presiding over the case said that the Court currently does not have the resources to livestream the hearings at the moment.

However, Judge Shakeel added that as soon as they acquire the resources for livestreaming, the hearings in the case will be livestreamed. He also noted that there were also difficulties in livestreaming the hearings due to administrative issues.

Yameen had requested to livestream the hearings in the money laundering case against him in connection to the sale of V. Aarah. However, former Felidhoo MP Yoosuf Naeem, who is also a defendant in the case, had objected to livestreaming the hearings.

Hearings in the first money laundering trial against Yameen had been aired by television channels. The hearings were aired with assistance from Public Service Media (PSM) at the request of the Criminal Court. It was the first hearing livestreamed on television in the Maldives.

At today’s hearing, Yameen’s lawyer Dr. Mohamed Jameel Ahmed had requested that hearings in the case be held after the COVID-19 situation in the country improved. He had made the requested as the presiding judge in Youth Minister Ahmed Mahloof’s bribery case had concluded to hold the hearings once the COVID-19 situation improves.

Responding to this, State Prosecutor Mariyam Shaamaa Naseer said that the defense has been given adequate time to review the case.

Judge Shakeel spoke in favor of the State Prosecutor’s remarks – stating that today’s hearing had been scheduled two weeks ahead of time. He also noted that the opportunity was presented for lawyers that were sick to take part in the hearings online, however they had rejected citing bad internet connection.

Defendant Yoosuf Naeem had not been present for today’s hearing, as he had contracted COVID-19.

Yameen was charged with money laundering and taking a bribe in connection to the case in November 2021. 

He is accused of misusing his position and taking a USD 1 million bribe as well as laundering the money in the sale of Aarah to Yoosuf Naeem, a former parliamentary representative for Felidhoo constituency. 

Meanwhile, Naeem is charged with giving a bribe in the same case. 

Yameen had been convicted of similar charges back in 2019. However, he was issued an acquittal by the Supreme Court last November – just short of two years into his five-year prison term.