State prosecutors on Sunday asked the Supreme Court to overturn former vice president Ahmed Adeeb’s 10-year terror conviction, days after he was submitted as a key witness against former president Abdulla Yameen.
Adeeb, who is also serving sentences over corruption and terrorism charges, was found guilty in June 2016 of plotting to use a pistol ahead of an anti-government protest.
In a U-turn after the verdict was upheld on appeal, state prosecutor Abdulla Rabiu told the apex court that it should be quashed because guilt had not been proven beyond a reasonable doubt.
If the conviction is overturned, it would reduce the Adeeb’s combined jail sentence to 23 years.
Presenting arguments from the defence, Adeeb’s lawyer Ismail Mohamed contended that the case was built on hearsay as no investigative authority had established Adeeb’s possession of a firearm.
Two anonymous witnesses who testified to have seen the pistol were not experts who could have determined if it fitted the description of a gun in the penal code, he added.
The prosecution relied on witnesses who “believed” Adeeb would not have a fake weapon rather than proving he had an actual weapon, Ismail argued. Testimony from the third anonymous witness showed the witness did not examine the weapon closely to prove that it was an actual firearm.
Ismail also alleged due process violations. Adeeb was not given adequate time and resources to prepare a defence, he said.
Witness statements on several charges against Adeeb were taken on the same day and he did not have enough time to discuss with lawyers ahead of the closing arguments, Ismail told the court.
The prosecutor dismissed arguments of due process violation but admitted that testimony of the anonymous witnesses did not prove beyond reasonable doubt that Adeeb carried an actual firearm.
While witness statements are sufficient to prove possession of a firearm, Rabiu said the prosecution failed to prove that the weapon in question was an actual firearm.
He conceded that the first two witnesses lacked the technical knowledge to identify a firearm. The third witnesses did not examine the pistol close enough, he noted.
The prosecutor asked the bench to issue a “fair ruling”.
Pressed by the Supreme Court justices, Rabiu said “wrong” judgments need to be overturned.
“The state does not believe the charges were proven beyond a reasonable doubt as stated in the constitution,” he said.
Asked why the prosecution’s stand has changed since the High Court appeal, Rabiu said “a review of the case has made it clear that the testimony of firearm experts or forensic evidence of the weapon was needed to prove it was an actual weapon.”
Citing the prosecution’s admissions, defence lawyer Ismail asked the bench to expedite a case and deliver their ruling on the same day.
But the chief justice concluded proceedings after announcing that a judgment would be delivered at the next hearing.
The three-judge panel hearing the appeal consists of Chief justice Ahmed Abdulla Didi, Justice Abdul Ghanee Mohamed and Justice Adam Mohamed Abdulla.