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High Court hears appeal of ex-president Yameen’s detention

The opposition leader was detained for the duration of a money laundering trial.



The High Court has concluded hearings into the criminal court’s order to detain former president Abdulla Yameen for the duration of an upcoming trial on money laundering charges.

The detention order was appealed at the High Court, which wrapped up the proceedings behind closed-doors on Tuesday morning.

The 59-year-old opposition leader is accused of laundering US$1 million transferred to his account by a company implicated in the country’s biggest corruption scandal.

Last month, the criminal court ordered Yameen’s detention after prosecutors submitted evidence of an alleged attempt to bribe witnesses and tamper with evidence. 

A secret document to show Yameen’s alleged attempt to block a police investigation into a suspicious transaction flagged by the Financial Intelligence Unit was also submitted.

The High Court is expected to deliver a judgment soon. But the court has yet to announce a date.

The appellate court is also due to rule on the legality of a court order to freeze Yameen’s bank accounts with more than MVR100 million (US$6.5 million).

It is unclear when the money laundering trial would begin.

The former president denies all charges. He has dismissed the bribery allegations and challenged the validity of the money laundering charges.

On Tuesday morning, a few opposition lawmakers and activists were seen outside the High Court in a show of support.

Supporters had also staged a protest march in Malé last month demanding his immediate release. But no further demonstrations have taken place.

Since his detention on February 18, the former president has been hospitalised three times due to cardiovascular medical conditions.

On Monday, opposition MP Abdul Raheem Abdulla claimed doctors have advised Yameen to undergo tests unavailable in the Maldives.

“We have walked all the roads. We have met the president. We tried to meet the home minister and the head of the [Maldives Correctional Service]. They don’t answer the phone. We have met the HRCM [Human Rights Commission of the Maldives],” he told the press.

The opposition leader was being kept behind bars to influence the April 6 parliamentary elections, he reiterated.

After he was taken to hospital last week, Yameen was kept for observation on the advice of cardiologists and released Thursday morning.

But he was brought back to the hospital again later that night after doctors in Maafushi referred him to IGMH, the government-run hospital’s spokesman Mohamed Mufeed told the Maldives Independent.

Yameen was hospitalised both times in relation to heart problems, he said.

On Sunday, Mufeed said the former president has been “clinically discharged” by doctors, but would not say if he has left the hospital.

According to Abdul Raheem, Yameen remains hospitalised.

The lawmaker previously complained about the former president not being allowed to exercise as advised by doctors. A treadmill was sent to prison but has not been assembled, he told reporters.

Yameen is not allowed outside the “apartment,” he said. Abdul Raheem also objected to cameras inside the rooms.

According to the prisons authority, Yameen was detained at the special protection unit of Maafushi prison, which has air-conditioned and furnished rooms with amenities, a corridor and a backyard.

The unit was previously used to house high-profile prisoners jailed during Yameen’s five-year term. According to the prisons authority, detainees at the unit have access to newspapers and their health is closely monitored.

A visiting delegation from the United Nations human rights chief’s office met with Yameen at the hospital last week.

The delegation led by Mona Rishwami, chief of the rule of law division, was given “unsupervised access,” the foreign ministry said.

Earlier this week, Speaker Gasim Ibrahim, one of the leaders of the four-party ruling coalition, repeatedly called for Yameen’s immediate release.