High Court backs Criminal Court’s decision to release Ammaty again

SeaLife Global’s Managing Director Ahmed Moosa Mohamed (Ammaty).

High Court, on Sunday, has backed Criminal Court’s order to release SeaLife Global’s managing director Ahmed Moosa Mohamed (Ammaty) – pressed with multiple charges for defrauding over 200 tenants out of millions in booking fees for a proposed apartment complex in suburban Hulhumale’.

After being awarded land in Hulhumale’ to build an apartment complex under an agreement made with the Housing Development Corporation (HDC) – SeaLife announced its 3,000-apartment housing project, the SeaLife Complex in Hulhumale’, back in 2015.

280 tenants paid a booking fee of MVR 50,000 (some more than MVR 50,000). But the SeaLife Complex was never built and the tenants were never reimbursed for their down payments.

The cumulative total of the booking fees collected by SeaLife is estimated to be upwards of MVR 14 million.

Ammaty, who had an Interpol red notice out for his capture since 2019, was arrested in neighboring Sri Lanka in February.

He was extradited to Maldives in March 2021, and charged with 42 counts of embezzlement which could see him behind bars for 65 years in May. He had been in police custody until the Criminal Court ordered his release in June 2021, declaring the case does not require his detention.

The decision was overturned by the High Court following an appeal by the Prosecutor General’s Office, citing Ammaty may influence witnesses and is deemed an extreme flight risk. 

His release was ordered by the Criminal Court for a second time on October 2021– after the court accepted his sisters as surety. This decision was also overturned by High Court, in November 2021. 

In March of this year, Criminal Court granted conditional release to Ammaty; a decision which the prosecution appealed to High Court. However, High Court had rejected the appeal in April.

Later in the month, Supreme Court ordered High Court to review their decision to reject the appeal.

In an order issued today subsequent to their review, High Court said they saw no reason to amend Criminal Court’s decision.

Underscoring the main reason for the prosecution was demanding Ammaty’s arrest was over fears of him fleeing the country again – High Court stressed that Criminal Court’s order to release him indicates they had taken strict measures to cut down such a chance. 

In this regard, the measures detailed by Criminal Court included holdings his passport; mandating him to appear before the court in accordance with summons; mandating him to check in with Maldives Correctional Service at 23:32pm on all official days; and the waiver of the right to apply for passport renewal or travel documentation without prior approval from the Court. As per the order, the failure to adhere to any of these conditions would prompt his immediate rearrest.

High Court’s order highlighted that Maldives Correctional Service had informed Criminal Court that Ammaty was adhering to the conditions, which was backed by supporting documents.

Therewith, High Court said they found no legal basis to overturn Criminal Court’s order on Ammaty’s release.

The case was reviewed by a bench of three High Court judges; Judge Mohamed Faisal, Shuaib Hussain Zakariyya and Fathimath Faruheeza.

Ammaty pleads ‘not guilty' to all 42 charges raised against him.