The Maldives’ former Vice President Ahmed Adeeb has been convicted of graft and handed an eight-year prison sentence for the theft of US$5million from state coffers.
Adeeb must serve a total of 33 years as the criminal court had sentenced him earlier this month 15 years and 10 years on terror charges, one of which related to an explosion on the president’s speedboat.
The former vice president was convicted of aiding and abetting embezzlement.
Two of his accomplices were also sentenced tonight.
Abdulla Ziyath, the former head of the state-owned tourism promotion firm, was also handed an eight year sentence on a charge of embezzlement, while Hamid Ismail, an businessman related to Adeeb, was handed a sentence of two years nine months and 18 days on a charge of money-laundering.
Lawyers for the three men said they have been barred by the court from labeling the trial unfair, but said they intend to file an appeal.
One man was arrested from outside the courtroom in a minor scuffle between onlookers and the police.
The verdict was issued at midnight in a closed hearing by Judge Abdul Bari Yoosuf, who had also sentenced Adeeb in the terror trials.
The case is just one of more than 50 cases of graft against Adeeb and Ziyath.
The pair are accused of masterminding the theft of some US$80million paid to the Maldives Marketing and Public Relations Corporation as acquisition fees for some 59 properties for tourism.
The scandal is the biggest case of corruption in Maldivian history, and came to light after Adeeb’s arrest on suspicion of links to a bomb attack on President Abdulla Yameen in September last year.
Tonight’s sentence relates to the theft of US$5million paid by Kuredu Holdings for the island of Maabinhuraa in Lhaviyani Atoll.
Prosecutors said the money was embezzled through Hamid’s Millenium Capital Managament (MCM) and a second company owned by Adeeb’s family, Montillion Pvt Ltd.
Two MCM employees testified that Adeeb had deposited US$5million in the company’s accounts. Some US$4million was returned to Adeeb in four cheques of US$1million, they said.
The defence counsel had previously expressed concern over inadequate time to prepare.
Adeeb still faces two more charges: abuse of authority over the bomb blast and a corruption charge over the lease of a lagoon.
The opposition has called for Yameen to be investigated over the theft, but the president claims Adeeb alone is to blame for the scandal.
Reporting by Hassan Moosa