Aarah trial: Court hears testimony of former Tourism Ministry official

Screen grab from a hearing in former president Abdulla Yameen Abdul Gayoom's money laundering trial on June 19, 2022.

The Criminal Court on Thursday heard testimony from an official who previously worked at the Legal Section of the Tourism Ministry – one of the state’s witnesses in the trial against former president Abdulla Yameen Abdul Gayoom over the sale of V. Aarah for resort development.

Yameen is on trial for money laundering and bribery in connection to the sale of the island.

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.

Both pled “not guilty” to charges.

The court is currently hearing testimony from state witnesses.

On Thursday, the court heard testimony from its third witness. The witness, who previously worked for the Legal Section of the Tourism Ministry, was presented as a witness to clarify the procedure which was used by Maldives Marketing and Public Relations Corporation (MMPRC) at the time to lease islands.

The witness told the court that though islands were usually leased in accordance with standard procedure, some islands had been leased before the President’s Office made a decision.

The witness said he had been overseas when Aarah was leased.

The witness wasn’t asked many questions during cross examination.

The hearing was adjourned in under one hour.

The court has now heard testimony from three state witnesses. The previous witnesses were two police officers who had been involved in preparing the forensic reports submitted as evidence in the case.

The court is also set to hear testimony from former MMPRC managing director Abdulla Ziyath and former vice president Ahmed Adeeb Abdul Gafoor - both of whom have been convicted of charges related to the MMPRC corruption and money laundering scandal, and are now key state witnesses in the case.