29 December 019
Former Maldives president Abdulla Yameen (in picture) was convicted and sentenced to five years in prison for money laundering on Thursday by a court that consisted of a panel of 5 judges. Court also ordered him to pay a US$5 million fine. He was accused of receiving $1 million of government money through a private company as part of a deal to lease a number of islands for hotel development.  The money was channelled through the state-owned Maldives Marketing and Public Relations Corporation (MMPRC), via a private company SoF, during his presidency. Judge Ali Rasheed, who headed a panel of judges said that it was established beyond any reasonable doubt that Yameen had taken money that he knew was embezzled from the state. The judges took over 10 days to deliberate the case and finally gave a unanimous verdict.
Dozens of his supporters gathered outside the courtroom said that he was innocent and the case was a political vendetta. The hotly anticipated verdict was delivered after repeated delays and was aired on live television. Despite efforts by Yameen’s lawyers to postpone the announcement of his final punishment, the Criminal Court asserted that there was no valid reason for such a delay.
Yameen, 60, ran the government with an iron hand for five years. He lost the election last year. Yameen drew the country closer to China during his tenure from 2013-2018. At that time the country moved away from its traditional ally India. The Maldives is a battleground in the rivalry between China and India. Speaking at a gathering outside his party office Wednesday night,  Yameen warned supporters to beware of people who might take over the opposition coalition if he was sent to prison.
His critics accused him of giving contracts, including a major bridge and an extension to the international airport, to Chinese companies at inflated prices.
He was accused of corruption, muzzling the media and persecuting political opponents.
Today Online reported.