Ex-President Yameen sentenced to 11 years in prison in Aarah case

Former President Yameen is seen waving after boarding a speedboat of Corrections Services to be taken back to prison after a court hearing in his appeal case on January 28, 2020. (Sun Photo/Fayaz Moosa)

Criminal Court, on Sunday, has sentenced opposition leader, former President Abdulla Yameen Abdulla Gayoom to 11 years in prison after being found guilty of money laundering and bribery.

Yameen was charged with money laundering and bribery in connection to the sale of V. Aarah for resort development during his administration.

He was accused of abusing 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.

Criminal Court, on Sunday afternoon, found Yameen guilty on both charges.

He was sentenced to seven years in prison for the money laundering charge, alongside a fine of USD 5 million. As per the judgment, Yameen needs to settle the fine with Maldives Inland Revenue Authority (MIRA) within a period of six months.

Meanwhile, Yameen was sentenced to four years in prison for taking a bribe.

The prosecution demanded a 19-year prison sentence for Yameen; an eight-year prison sentence for taking a bribe, and an 11-year prison sentence for money laundering. That is the maximum sentence, which the prosecution cited was adequate in consideration of the position Yameen held at the time the crime was committed. 

The defense failed to put forth any points regarding the punishment despite being granted a one-and-a-half-hour recess for discussion.

“The remarks by the prosecution regarding the punishment led us to believe it was a statement formulated knowing the contents of the court’s verdict. We do not believe one-and-a-half-hour is adequate to discuss punishment,” Yameen’s lawyer Abdulla Siyaz said after the recess.

Criminal Court’s Chief Judge Ahmed Shakeel who presides over the case refuted the allegations, stating contents of the verdict had not been pre-informed to any party. He added that lawyers must know that discussion on the punishment would be next in a trial once the defendant is found guilty.

“Therewith, the court believes that the defendant has no points to put forth regarding punishment in this case,” Judge Shakeel said.

The sentencing in the case came after a recess in the hearing, which extended for hours.