Court hears closing arguments in pistol and graft charge against Adeeb

Court hears closing arguments in pistol and graft charge against Adeeb
June 05 17:22 2016

The criminal court heard Saturday closing arguments in two separate trials on graft and terrorism charges against detained former Vice President Ahmed Adeeb.

The final hearings were closed to the press and the public for “national security reasons.”

The 34-year-old faces a life sentence if found guilty.

The graft charge relates to the theft of some US$5million from state coffers, and the terror charge relates to a claim that Adeeb carried a pistol on May Day last year.

He is also being prosecuted on a second count of graft, as well as an abuse of authority charge and a second count of terrorism over the September 28 blast on President Adbulla Yameen’s speedboat.

The controversial chief judge of the criminal court is now overseeing all five cases against Adeeb. Abdul Bari Yoosuf had played a key role in sentencing political leaders, including former President Mohamed Nasheed, last year.

The date for a verdict has not been announced.

Pistol case

Prosecutors say Adeeb is guilty of terrorism. He is accused of plotting to kill or cause harm during a major opposition protest on May Day last year.

Adeeb faces a jail term of up to 15 years if found guilty.

He was charged under the now defunct terrorism law.

Prosecutors called in three anonymous witnesses; two of them claimed Adeeb had allowed them to handle a pistol in a black bag at his apartment on May Day’s eve. Adeeb had said that the protesters could not reach him, they said.

The pair also said Adeeb carried two explosive devices in his bag at the time. One of them alleged that he saw bullets in the bag containing the pistol.

A third anonymous witness, a soldier called in halfway through the trial, said he too saw Adeeb carrying a pistol at the Rehendhi flats. A photo of the pistol, reportedly taken without Adeeb’s knowledge, was also submitted to court.

The defence said the case was based on hearsay, and sets a dangerous precedent whereby anyone could be prosecuted for allegations made by a third party.

The first two witnesses are not firearms expert and therefore incapable of identifying a weapon, they said.

The case was built on an incomplete investigation, they argued, noting it was initially filed on the testimony of the first two witnesses and the third was introduced only towards the end of the trial.

The defence also questioned why none of the witnesses had reported seeing the pistol at the time. The photo is also inadmissible as it does not link Adeeb to the pistol, they argued.

The charge of terrorism is trumped up, they continued. If Adeeb is to be found guilty, the court must consider the fact the weapon was never used to cause harm and that the new penal code sets a maximum jail term of one year for the charge of carrying a firearm, they said.

Maabinhuraa 

Adeeb is accused of aiding the embezzlement of US$5million paid to the state tourism promotion firm, the Maldives Marketing and Public Relations Corporation, in May 2014.

The amount was paid by Kuredu Holdings as the acquisition cost for the island of Maabinhuraa in Lhaviyani Atoll.

Adeeb is charged under the 1968 penal code.

Abdulla Ziyath, the then-managing director of MMPRC, and Hamid Ismail, an influential businessman, are also on trial in the same case. Ziyath is charged with embezzlement and Hamid is charged with money laundering.

The money was embezzled through Hamid’s Millenium Capital Management and a second company owned by Adeeb’s family, Montillion Pvt Ltd, prosecutors have said.

Key testimony includes that by two employees of MCM who said Adeeb had informed them of the US$5million deposit and said they had returned US$4million to Adeeb in four cheques of US$1million.

The pair had claimed Hamid was unaware of the transactions.

The defence had questioned the reliability of the two witnesses, noting Amjad Ismail was Hamid’s brother and Ahmed Nizam was the general manager of MCM.

Adeeb’s lawyers also claimed prosecutors had failed to submit sufficient evidence linking Adeeb with the MMPRC transactions.

Additional reporting by Shafaa Hameed