Yameen denied stay of execution order on prison sentence

PPM's leader, former president Abdulla Yameen Abdul Gayyoom. (Sun Photo/Fayaz Moosa)

High Court, on Sunday, has decided against granting the stay of execution order requested by opposition leader, former president Abdulla Yameen Abdul Gayyoom on the Criminal Court verdict sentencing him to 11 years in prison for money laundering and bribery charges.

Criminal Court sentenced Yameen to 11 years in prison on December 25, 2022, after finding him guilty of money laundering and bribery charges in connection to the sale of V. Aarah for resort development. He also received a fine of USD 5 million.

Yameen appealed the verdict to High Court. Additionally, he also sought a stay of execution order regarding the enforcement of both the prison sentence and the fine.

The three judges who reviewed Yameen’s request unanimously decided that although a stay of execution order with respect to the fine was possible, the same cannot apply to the prison sentence.

In the judgment, the decision to grant a stay of execution order with respect to the fine explained that the appellate court will face obstructions in the pursuit of justice if a decision is made in a case that has been filed seeking the settlement of the fine from Yameen. 

Henceforth, the court ordered to halt proceedings in all cases seeking the settlement of the fine from Yameen. 

Judge Mohamed Saleem and Judge Hassan Shafeeu’s opinion in the judgment read that neither the Criminal Procedure Act nor Penal Code had any provisions on staying the execution of a lower court judgment once appealed to superior court.

The opinion was agreed upon by Judge Huzaifa Mohamed.

Yameen, who was PPM’s presidential candidate, submitted his candidacy for the September 9 presidential election after signing his candidacy form from prison.

The Elections Commission (EC) rejected Yameen’s candidacy due to his conviction, citing Article 109 (f) of the Constitution, which disqualifies candidates who have been sentenced to over 12 months in prison for a crime, unless it has been at least three years since they have completed their sentence or have been pardoned.

EC rejected Yameen’s candidacy based on two main factors; his criminal conviction, and his failure to settle the fine he was ordered to pay as part of his sentence.

He contested the decision with the Supreme Court, which ruled EC was right to declare the opposition leader ineligible to contest the election. 

Although he initially urged the opposition PPM-PNC coalition to boycott the election after the Supreme Court deemed him ineligible to contest, he later endorsed PNC’s presidential candidate, Male’ City Mayor Dr. Mohamed Muizzu.