The criminal court on Sunday refused to hold former vice president Ahmed Adeeb in pre-trial detention after the appeal courts wiped out his 33-year jail sentence on terrorism and corruption charges.
The High Court in late May set aside his terrorism conviction and ordered a retrial over an alleged attempt to assassinate former president Abdulla Yameen, but Adeeb was not released as the court also ordered a 15-day remand period and instructed the Prosecutor General’s office to seek a lower court order to keep him detained until a fresh trial.
The criminal court denied the request on Sunday, citing its decision to dismiss 15 pending cases against Adeeb, including two for which the High Court ordered retrials.
Prosecutor General Aishath Bisham cried foul when the court decided to send back the cases to her office.
The trial court lacked the legal authority to disregard a higher court order for retrials, she told the media before Adeeb was taken to the remand hearing on Sunday afternoon.
In a statement defending the move, the criminal court referred to the High Court rulings that overturned Adeeb’s terrorism and corruption convictions, which were primarily based on last year’s Supreme Court order for his release on the grounds of political influence over his trial.
The top court’s declaration that Adeeb’s trials had been conducted unfairly through undue influence over judges and prosecutors therefore remained valid, it added.
Although retrials were ordered, the criminal court noted that the Supreme Court had also declared that the charges against Adeeb were raised after politically motivated investigations that were conducted in violation of the constitution and international law.
Citing the appeal court rulings, a majority of judges decided at a meeting of the criminal court’s council last Wednesday that moving ahead with Adeeb’s cases without “an investigation that is free of influence” would not be legitimate.
PG Bisham, however, disagreed with the criminal court’s stance. Appeals will be filed with the Supreme Court challenging the High Court decisions, she told the press.
Last week, the High Court also overturned Adeeb’s eight-year jail sentence on a corruption charge and ordered a retrial over the alleged embezzlement of US$5 million paid as a resort acquisition fee.
Adeeb has been under house arrest since late March.
According to media reports, the former vice president will be free after he completes a 15-day sentence handed for contempt of court.