Former Vice President Ahmed Adeeb has indicated the he was forced into signing a plea deal with authorities in relation to the Maldives Marketing and Public Relations Corporation (MMPRC) corruption, as the Criminal Court questioned the validity of the deal.
A hearing in the seven charges against Adeeb was held on Sunday. The charges are two cases of involvement in corruption, two cases of using his position to gain undue benefits, two charges of money-laundering as well as an abuse of power charge.
At the hearing, presiding Judge Ismail Rasheed inquired on the validity of the plea deal signed between the former vice president and the police and the Prosecutor General’s (PG) Office. Both the prosecution and defence were given the opportunity to present their case.
Prosecutors stressed that the deal was signed as per the Maldives Constitution, Prosecutor General’s Act as well as the Criminal Procedure Act.
Citing his medical condition, Adeeb said that he had required treatment abroad since being incarcerated but that the opportunity was not provided during the previous administration. Noting that his only hope of being granted medical leave was by ‘doing what [then] PG wanted’ after the change in government, Adeeb said that this was why he signed the plea deal. He described former PG Aishath Bisham, who he reached the plea deal with, as “brutal”.
He also claimed that the plea deal he signed mentioned two charges and claimed that he does not know how a second one came about.
The former VP added that he had always cooperated in the MMPRC investigation.
Also at Sunday’s hearing, the court noted issues with one of the cases against Adeeb; the Maabinhuraa case. As such, the presiding judge said that there are procedural issues in the case as it was submitted while the same case was ongoing at the Supreme Court.
Further, while Adeeb was among the political figures whose release was ordered in the controversial Supreme Court of February 2018, Judge Rasheed noted that this was due to questionable court proceedings. Hence, he questioned the validity of the case, given that officials that investigated the case then are still involved in it.
To this, the state replied that the seven charges were raised against Adeeb after a joint investigation by the police, anti-corruption commission and the presidential commission on corruption and asset recovery.
Furthermore, prosecutors emphasized that the former vice president can deny the plea bargain.
Following the procedural issues noted in the deal, the judge decided to reach a decision on the matter, at the next hearing on Tuesday.
The preliminary hearing in the charges against the former VP was held in November 2019. While the charges were raised against him in September that year, he signed the plea deal the same month.
Adeeb's legal team claims that he did not sign a plea deal, rather 'a cooperation agreement'.