The appeal submitted on the court sentence imposed on Former President and opposition leader Abdulla Yameen Abdul Gayoom, who was found guilty of corruption and money laundering charges over the leasing of Aarah Island in Vaavu atoll to a foreign party for resort development, has been accepted by the High Court.
The Criminal Court sentenced Yameen to seven years in prison and fined him USD five million in connection with the case, on 25 December 2022.
The former president’s team made the appeal at the High Court on March 13.
The High Court on Tuesday accepted the appeal which has since been registered.
The former president has lodged another appeal at the High Court, pertaining to a Criminal Court verdict to pay USD 3.4 million in fines issued on the ex-president, to the state within six months.
The Criminal Court ordered him to pay the state the USD one million he laundered and the USD two million raised over the leasing of Aarah Island to a foreign party for resort development, on February 26 this year. With this, the state prosecutors had requested the court to recover the money laundered by the former president.
His sentence includes seven years in prison and a fine of USD five million on being found guilty of money laundering and four years behind bars on being found guilty of accepting bribes and for acts of corruption. The reason cited by the judge is that Yameen committed the act in a manner that seriously undermines the interests of the people while he was the president. With this, the level of punishment was increased by one.
Yameen was charged under Article 53 (a), 5(a) (2) in reference to (3), as well as under Article 53(b), (6) and (7) of the Anti-Money Laundering and Terrorism Financing Act, for laundering money. The second charge comes under Section 510 of the Penal Code, for accepting bribes.
The island near V. Thinadhoo, used as a picnic island, was initially awarded to a local company in which former leader of Dhivehi Rayyithunge Party (DRP) Ahmed Thasmeen Ali has a share. The island was sold off to former MP for Felidhoo constituency, Yoosuf Naeem during September 2015. Naeem is believed to have been a close ally of the former president. He is to have sold the island to a foreign company later, the deal through which Yameen pocketed USD one million.
According to the verdict, money was being taken from investors in different ways and that the islands were being allotted to them on the condition that they would be given various benefits and money.
Despite his sentencing and him losing power in 2018 after incumbent president Ibrahim Mohamed Solih won the 2018 presidential elections, the opposition Progressive Party of Maldives (PPM) has declared their incarcerated leader as their presidential candidate for this year’s presidential election.
Back in 2019, Yameen was sentenced to five years and fined USD five million for embezzling USD one million in state funds, which the prosecution said was acquired through the lease of resort development rights.
Following a few months into his sentencing, Yameen was transferred to house arrest in 2020 and freed by the Supreme Court months later citing a fault in an evidence document.
After his release, Yameen returned to political activities once more.
However, with his recent incarceration, his supporters have once again begun taking to the streets of the capital city, calling for his release.