Yameen’s Aarah appeal nears end

August 4, 2019: Former President Abdulla Yameen Abdul Gayyoom. (Sun Photo/Fayaz Moosa)

Hearings in the appeal lodged by former president Abdulla Yameen Abdul Gayoom and Yoosuf Naeem over their convictions with respect to V. Aarah case have neared an end.

Yameen was sentenced to 11 years in prison and slapped with a USD 5 million fine on December 25, 2022, after he was found guilty of money laundering and bribery charges in connection to the sale of V. Aarah for resort development.

Meanwhile, Yoosuf Naeem was sentenced to three years, two months and 12 days in prison for bribery.

The convictions are being appealed at the High Court.

At the last hearing in the appeal held on Thursday, defense lawyers argued that Criminal Court’s actions denied both Yameen and Naeem their fundamental rights.

In the hearing in the appeal held today, the defense lawyers backed their argument, citing the submission of the new evidence by the prosecution after the evidence submission process had closed as one of the reasons why their fundamental rights had been denied.

The evidence in question was evidence submitted by the prosecution to negate witness testimonies by Ahmed Nareesh and former Economic Minister Mohamed Saeed on behalf of Yameen.

The defense’s argument at Monday’s hearing was mainly focused on how Criminal Court’s decision to allow the evidence had caused losses to the defense. Both the defense and the prosecution were questioned to clarify the lower court trial’s proceedings with respect to the submission of the new evidence.

Naeem’s lawyer, Hamza Latheef argued that the court should have allowed the opportunity to submit the evidence after closing statements.

He also said the judge must decide on accepting the evidence and including it on the record after reaching a decision with respect to interest.

The hearing, which panned almost three hours, concluded after the judges' bench clarified all matters they needed.

Hence, the next hearing will be the presentation of final arguments, with each side being entitled for 30 minutes to make their case. Then, both sides will receive a one-hour time frame to present their closing statements.

The judgment will be delivered afterwards.