Male: A court in Maldives convicted former president Abdulla Yameen and sentenced him to five years in prison for money laundering as dozens of his supporters gathered outside the courtroom saying that he is innocent. The five-member criminal court has also ordered Yameen to pay a $5 million fine.
Yameen, who ran the the Indian Ocean archipelago state from 2013 to 2018, unexpectedly lost an election last year to current President Ibrahim Mohamed Solih and has since faced investigations over a number of deals sealed during his tenure. He was accused of receiving $1 million of government money through a private company as part of a deal to lease a number of tropical islands for hotel development - charges he has repeatedly dismissed.
Judge Ali Rasheed, who headed a panel of five judges trying the case, told the criminal court it had been 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 on this and this is the unanimous verdict of the five judges,” Rasheed said.
Yameen drew the Maldives closer to China during his tenure of five years. Opposition critics accused him of giving contracts, including a major bridge and an extension to the international airport, to Chinese companies at inflated prices. He denied any wrongdoing.