Lawyers: Charges against Yameen "born out of spite”

Opposition leader, former President Abdulla Yameen Abdul Gayyoom speaks at an event. (Sun Photo/Mohamed Hayyan)

Former president Abdulla Yameen Abdul Gayoom’s lawyers told the court on Thursday that the charges pressed against him over the sale of V. Aarah for resort development were born out of spite. 

Yameen is on trial for money laundering and bribery in connection to the deal. 

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

The state has also charged Naeem with giving the bribe. 

Yameen entered a plea of “not guilty” in the case back in February. 

At the hearing at Criminal Court on Thursday, the prosecution and the defense made their pre-trial statement. 

The defense said that there was ground to believe that former vice president Ahmed Adeeb Abdul Gafoor and former MMPRC managing director Abdulla Ziyath would be hostile towards Yameen as they were taken action against over the MMPRC graft scandal during his administration. They said that Yameen was treated as a suspect in the Aarah case after they were allowed concessions by the current administration. 

The defense said the charges against Yameen were therefore political charges born out of spite. 

Meanwhile, the prosecution gave a detailed account of how the Aarah corruption took place. The prosecution said that it was Yameen himself who gave the instructions to transfer Aarah to under the management of Tourism Ministry and lease it through MMPRC. 

A company in which Yoosuf Naeem owned 99 percent of shares was founded, and the island leased to the company, and a USD 1 million cheque was written through MMPRC, which was later deposited to Yameen’s ban account, said the prosecution. 

The judge said he intended to hear witness testimony within this month, and aimed to hear closing arguments in August, and issue a verdict in September.