Maldives former president sentenced to 11 years in prison

The criminal court, in its verdict, found Yameen guilty of the charges and Chief Judge Ahmed Shakeel said that it is questionable that the money that documents show was deposited to Yameen's personal account from Yoosuf Naeem's account.
Maldives Former President Abdulla Yameen
Maldives Former President Abdulla YameenANI

MALÈ (Maldives): A court in Maldives found former President Abdulla Yameen guilty in a corruption and money laundering case and sentenced him to 11 years in prison and also fined him USD 5 million, Avas, a Maldives-based newspaper reported.

The criminal court, in its verdict, found Yameen guilty of the charges and Chief Judge Ahmed Shakeel said that it is questionable that the money that documents show was deposited to Yameen's personal account from Yoosuf Naeem's account.

Former president Yameen was accused of receiving one million USD stolen from state coffers in the country's biggest-ever corruption scandal, Avas reported.

Yameen abused his position and took one million USD from a private company to facilitate the sale of Aarah for resort development.

According to the charges, Yameen accepted a bribe of USD 1 million from former MP Yoosuf Naeem, who is being tried on bribery charges alongside Yameen. The trial began at the Criminal Court on January 2, and hearings in the trial concluded on November 30, Avas reported.

The prosecution sought the maximum penalty for the conviction due to Yameen's position as head of State at the time of the crime. The prosecution requested 11 years in prison and a six-fold increase in the fine. However, as the law states that the fine can be increased up to five-fold at the maximum, the State requested to impose the maximum amount as a fine as under the law.

The verdict also found Yoosuf Naeem guilty of bribery, and the prosecution asked for the maximum penalty for the former MP.

The charges against Yameen relate to claims he received at least one million dollars through SOF Private Limited, a private company linked to his former deputy, which was used to launder tourism revenues from the state-owned Maldives Marketing and Public Relations Corporation (MMPRC), Aljazeera reported.

The amount was deposited into the former president's personal bank account at the Maldives Islamic Bank in October 2015.

Lawyers for President Yameen and Yoosuf Naeem asked for ten days to speak on the sentence. However, the judge adjourned the hearing shortly after announcing that the hearing would resume at 2:00 pm to decide on the sentence. He refused to provide the time requested by the defendants, reported Avas.

Earlier also, Yameen was convicted in November 2019, after his 2013-2018 presidential term, for the embezzlement of up to 1 million dollars in government funds using a private company. But, later on, in 2021, the Supreme Court revoked the five-year prison term.

According to local media outlet Sun Online, the verdict was cancelled by Yameen's appeal against the previous court ruling, in which he cited a lack of verified links between the private company and his bank accounts.

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