Former Maldives president Abdulla Yameen found guilty of corruption

File photo of former president of Maldives Abdulla Yameen (AFP/Getty)
File photo of former president of Maldives Abdulla Yameen (AFP/Getty)

The criminal court of Maldives on Sunday found former president Abdulla Yameen guilty on corruption and money laundering charges related to receiving kickbacks from a private company.

The court said it expects to announce the sentence soon. Yameen has denied any wrongdoing.

Yameen, who lost power in 2018, was sentenced to five years in jail and fined $5m in 2019 for embezzling $1m in state funds, which the prosecution said was acquired through the lease of resort development rights.

After his sentencing, Yameen was shifted to house arrest in 2020 but was freed months later.

Since his release, Yameen, the half-brother of former dictator Maumoon Abdul Gayoom, has returned to active politics with a campaign against Indian influence in Maldives, raising concerns in New Delhi.

Yameen is the declared presidential candidate for the Progressive Party of the Maldives (PPM) for an election due in 2023.

Situated close to strategic shipping lanes in the Indian Ocean, Maldives is a focal point for competition between India and China over influence in the region.

On Saturday, the Maldives government condemned former customs commissioner and PPM member Abbas Adil Riza for a tweet calling for an arson attack on the Indian High Commission in Male.

Mr Riza was commissioner general of customs during Yameen’s administration.

“The government strongly condemns the incitement of arson and terrorism targeted at the High Commission of India in the Maldives. The government is investigating this threat very seriously and the authorities have taken all precautionary measures,” the Tribune newspaper quoted an official statement from the Maldives ministry of foreign affairs as saying.

“Such threats of malicious intent aimed at undermining the security of the diplomatic corps and disrupting public safety will not be tolerated,” the statement added.

Other political parties, including the ruling Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP), also condemned the call for attack in a tweet.

(Additional reporting by Reuters)