Former president Abdulla Yameen on Wednesday night expressed confidence of an acquittal on money laundering charges if he was afforded a fair trial.
Speaking at an event held to welcome former MP ‘Colonel’ Mohamed Nasheed and new recruits to the Progressive Party of Maldives, Yameen said there was no cause for concern about the verdict as he “cannot be touched” if the trial was conducted fairly.
“I’m saying I’m not concerned because I know I have not taken a single coin from the treasury,” the 60-year-old opposition leader told supporters at the PPM office.
Yameen said he was “wealthy enough” to not have any need to steal from state coffers and put his family through the ordeal of a criminal prosecution. “The money I had at the time would have exceeded US$1 million,” he said.
The money laundering charges were raised in connection with US$1 million deposited to his account by SOF, a company that was used to funnel the bulk of US$90 million embezzled during his administration. Yameen is also accused of violating an agreement signed with the Anti-Corruption Commission to hold the US$1 million in an escrow account.
If stolen funds entered his account from SOF, it would have been about US$19,000, Yameen said.
Hours before the verdict was due last Tuesday, the judicial watchdog suspended the presiding judge for sharing a cartoon of the president and speaker of parliament in chains. A five-judge bench has since been empanelled to hear the case. The new judges have to yet to decide whether to restart the trial or deliver a verdict.
Yameen accused the government of trying to influence the trial and referred to Judge Hailam’s allegations about senior officials seeking assurances of a conviction.
He went on to criticise the Judicial Service Commission’s decision to recommend the impeachment of Chief Justice Dr Ahmed Abdulla Didi and Justice Adam Mohamed. The watchdog cannot probe ethical misconduct in relation to court decisions, he contended.
The apex court was “ruined” after its shock ruling on February 1, 2018 for the release of jailed politicians, Yameen said.
“Since then we’ve not had the chance to breathe. So it’s not acceptable for us to remove the country’s chief justice from his post, or removing other judges on the Supreme Court. What problem are they taking? They’re taking an ethics case. But they’re not investigating an ethical case. Judgments and orders issued by judges are not ethical cases,” he said.