Citing insufficient evidence, the criminal court on Wednesday threw out bribery charges against two former Supreme Court justices, the former chief judicial administrator and the son of an opposition leader.
Following their arrest during a state of emergency in February, Ibrahim Siyad Gasim – the son of Jumhooree Party leader Gasim Ibrahim and managing director of his Villa conglomerate – was charged with bribing then-chief justice Abdulla Saeed, justice Ali Hameed and judicial administrator Hassan Saeed.
At separate hearings Wednesday afternoon, Judge Ahmed Hailam ruled that the state had failed to submit sufficient evidence to prove the claims made in the charge sheets.
According to his charge sheet, Siyad had signed a letter on behalf of Villa Group to pay for luxury properties bought in Malaysia under the names of individuals connected with the other three defendants.
But his lawyer Hisaan Hussain said two different companies were named in the charge sheet and the documents presented as evidence.
She also questioned why a company’s involvement in a real estate transaction should be suspicious.
Hailam ruled that the state had not submitted documents to prove that Villa group or Siyad paid for properties connected to the other three defendants.
There was no evidence to prove the apex court order in February was issued through bribery, he added.
Asked repeatedly by the judge whether there was any documentation that showed Villa paid for the properties, the prosecutor conceded: “We do not have a document which directly names them as making reservations.”
Hailam declared that the bribery charge was pressed in violation the criminal procedures law. He also raised “doubts about the validity of the letter” alleged to have been signed by Siyad.
At the next hearing, the former justices and judicial administrator were flanked by two prison officers when they appeared in court.
The prosecutor began by announcing that the state did not have anything to add to what was discussed at the first hearing.
After the three defendants denied the “baseless” allegations, their lawyers asked the judge to dismiss the charges in light of the ruling made in Siyad’s case.
“I think we can come to the conclusion that without a person to offer bribes, there will be no one to accept bribes,” Hisaan said.
Judge Hailam concurred. The case has been cancelled due to the prosecution’s failure to submit evidence in line with the criminal procedures law, he declared.
The criminal court decision undermines the president’s key justification for declaring the state of emergency in February.
The two justices were arrested hours after Yameen invoked emergency powers on February 5 and suspended constitutional rights and legal immunities for judges.
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Source URL: Maldives Independent