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Maldives’ ex-president Yameen walks free after Aarah conviction overturned

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Former Maldivian leader Abdulla Yameen Abdul Gayoom walked free on Thursday, after the High Court overturned a conviction against him for money laundering and bribery.

Yameen was sentenced to 11 years in prison on December 25, 2022, on charges of bribery and money laundering in connection to the sale of V. Aarah. The High Court delivered its verdict on Thursday, after a months-long pause in the appeal proceedings.

But instead of a full exoneration, the court overturned the two convictions and ordered a retrial in the case.

Earlier on Thursday, the High Court overturned the three-year prison sentence issues against Yameen’s co-defendant in the case, former Felidhoo MP Yoosuf Naeem, who was convicted of bribing the former president.

Delivering the judgement, Judge Hassan Shafeeu – who chaired the three-member bench – said that the Criminal Court committed major wrongs in the trial. He said the verdict was issued “outside the bounds of the law.”

The other two judges concurred.

The High Court’s judgement comes four months after it concluded appeal hearings in the case. The sentencing hearing was scheduled on Wednesday night, after Speaker Mohamed Aslam – a top politician from the main opposition Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) – threatened to lodge a case with the Judicial Service Commission (JSC) over the prolonged appeal process.

This marks the second time for a court to overturn a conviction against Yameen. In 2021, the Supreme Court overturned a five-year sentence issued against him for money laundering in connection to the sale of GA. Vodamulla – another island which was leased for resort development during his administration.

The conviction in the Aarah case had disqualified Yameen from contesting the 2023 presidential elections. Though he initially asked the then-opposition PPM-PNC (Progressive Party of Maldives-People’s National Congress) coalition to boycott the election, he later endorsed President Dr. Mohamed Muizzu, who won the vote taken by the coalition’s joint senate to produce a backup candidate.

Yameen was transferred home on October 1, 2023 – a day after President Muizzu won the presidential election.

But less than a week after President Muizzu took office in November, Yameen left the ruling PPM-PNC and initiated efforts to form a new party, the People’s National Front (PNF).

He has also grown increasingly vocal in his criticism of President Muizzu’s administration, has repeatedly alleged that President Muizzu and other members of the PPM-PNC leadership had never wanted him freed.

Source(s); sun.mv

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Developmental projects of Maldives progressing substantially

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India’s Minister of External Affairs Dr. S. Jaishankar has affirmed that the developmental projects of the Maldives carried out with the assistance of India have been progressing considerably. The remarks were made by the minister during the Confederation of Indian Industry (CIIs) Annual Business Summit.

Speaking at the summit, Minister Jaishankar stated that some developmental projects were slightly politically influenced, hindering the progress. However, he assured that the progress of the projects have propelled at a notable rate.

Following the Minister of Foreign Affairs Moosa Zameer’s official visit to India at the invitation of Minister Jaishankar, discussions were held highlighting the spectrum of initiatives across the nation has been kickstarted through loans and grants from the Government of India during the previous administration. He emphasised the current government’s commitment to prioritising the resumption and completion of these projects.

Meanwhile, the Government of India has reaffirmed its commitment to the development and prosperity of the Maldives by extending a budgetary support of USD 50 million to be repaid within a term of one year.

Source(s): PsmNews

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Police officers complete training to prevent maritime terrorism acts

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A team of 22 police officers has successfully completed a specialised training programme focused on thwarting maritime terrorism activities.

Entitled “Training on Strengthening Capabilities to Disrupt Maritime Crimes as Related to Terrorist Threats,” the program was conducted through a collaborative effort between the Maldives Police Service (MPS) and the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC). Running from May 13 to 15, the intensive training equipped participants with essential skills and knowledge crucial for combating threats in maritime environments.

The concluding ceremony, graced by the presence of Chief Superintendent of Police Ibrahim Adnan Anees, Head of Marine Police, along with senior officials from the Marine Police Department, UNODC’s Head of Office Enrico Boninsegna, and course instructor Kenneth Alferdo Pennington, highlighted the significance of such initiatives in enhancing national security.

Addressing the gathering, Adnan underscored the importance of ongoing education and skill development, urging participants to actively apply the knowledge garnered from the program in their professional endeavors.

The training, conducted at Dhoonidhoo, Kaafu Atoll, imparted vital insights into the prevention and detection of maritime terrorism activities, emphasizing protocols for safe navigation in high-risk areas. Furthermore, officers received guidance on investigative procedures essential for effectively addressing such crimes, thereby bolstering the nation’s capabilities in combating maritime threats.

Source(s): PsmNews

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President reverts land act amendment to parliament

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President Dr. Mohamed Muizzu has reverted the Ninth Amendment Bill to the Maldives Land Act to Parliament for further consideration.

This bill, which seeks to establish criteria for recipients of residential land and mandates that land be allocated within three months of the publication of the permanent list of recipients in the gazette, was initially passed during the twenty-second sitting of Parliament’s first session this year and sent to the President’s Office for ratification on May 2.

In returning the bill, President Muizzu invoked Article 91(a) of the Constitution, which grants the President the authority to return legislation to Parliament for reconsideration.

The President’s Office has confirmed this, indicating the need for further review and potential revisions to the proposed amendment.

Source(s): PsmNews

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