Former vice president Ahmed Adeeb walked out of the High Court as an innocent man Thursday morning after his eight-year jail sentence on a corruption charge was overturned.
The court ordered a retrial over the alleged embezzlement of US$5 million paid as a resort acquisition fee.
The decision was largely based on last year’s Supreme Court order for Adeeb’s release on the grounds of political influence over his trial.
When the shock ruling on February 1, 2018 was reversed after the arrest of two justices, only the specific part that ordered the release of political prisoners had been rescinded, the High Court noted. Therefore, the top court’s declaration that Adeeb’s trial had been conducted unfairly through undue influence over judges and the chief prosecutor remained valid, it added.
The majority opinion from the three-judge panel was issued by Chief Judge Shujau Usman and Judge Hussain Shaheed. In his dissenting opinion, Judge Shuaib Hussain Zakariyya ruled there were no grounds to overturn the guilty verdict, noting previous High Court judgments that upheld the convictions of Adeeb’s co-defendants in the embezzlement trial.
Adeeb’s 33-year combined jail sentence has been wiped out over the past two weeks.
On Monday, the Supreme Court quashed his 10-year terror conviction over an alleged plot to use a pistol ahead of an anti-government protest in May 2015. The judgment came a week after the High Court set aside a conviction on a separate terrorism charge and ordered a retrial over the alleged attempt to assassinate former president Abdulla Yameen.
The High Court had also issued an order to remand Adeeb for 15 days. He is reportedly due to be taken before the criminal court for extension of detention when the period expires.
Adeeb has been under house arrest since late March.
Despite the order to hold Adeeb in a remand jail, he was not taken into custody as the Supreme Court on May 2 had upheld a High Court order to transfer Adeeb from prison to house arrest.
Starting on Thursday, Adeeb is now serving a 15-day sentence handed for contempt of court, a prisons authority spokesman told Avas. Once a person is convicted on multiple counts and handed several sentences, he starts by serving the longest jail term, the spokesman explained. If one sentence is overturned, the inmate must serve the next longest sentence.
The corruption and terrorism charges were raised after Adeeb’s arrest in October 2015 over the alleged attempt to assassinate his boss with a bomb on the presidential speedboat.
All three trials were criticised over apparent due process violations.
In the wake of Yameen’s heavy defeat in last year’s presidential election, Adeeb was transferred home in November after three years in prison.