Maldives High Court overturns ex-President Abdulla Yameen’s prison sentence | News

Decision comes days before the Indian Ocean archipelago nation holds parliamentary elections.

A court in the Maldives has overturned the conviction of former President Abdulla Yameen and cancelled his 11-year prison sentence.

The High Court said on Thursday that his 2022 trial had been unfair and ordered a new trial.

“The lower court ruling was not fair,” Judge Hassan Shafeeu said while reading out a lengthy decision that was broadcast live.

The decision was made three days before the Indian Ocean archipelago nation holds a parliamentary election, in which Yameen is fielding candidates from a political party he formed while serving his sentence.

Yameen was convicted on two charges when a court found he had accepted a bribe to grant a lease on an islet for tourism development while he was in power from 2013 to 2018.

Thursday’s ruling set that verdict aside. The high court overturned the prison sentence due to procedural irregularities and ordered a lower court to restart the trial on charges of bribery and money laundering. Yameen is also on trial for separate bribery charges at the court.

Yameen’s co-accused Yusuf Naeem, a businessman who was said to have paid the alleged bribe of $1m, was also freed.

Yameen, 64, had been held at the high-security Maafushi Prison but was transferred to house arrest the day after his ally, Mohamed Muizzu, won presidential elections in September.

The pro-China former leader had borrowed heavily and built thousands of houses and other infrastructure during his five-year tenure.

The Maldives will hold its parliamentary election on Sunday.

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