Jailed former Vice President Ahmed Adheeb on Thursday demanded to know why the Criminal Court is proceeding with the trial of the new charges against him while Adheeb’s debilitating health is nearly at a life-threatening point.
Speaking at his preliminary hearing of the new charges filed by the Prosecutor General’s Office in connection to the corruption scandal of Maldives Marketing and Public Relations Corporation (MMPRC) which surfaced in 2015, a smiling and composed Adheeb declared that he had been deprived of proper medical care while he was in police custody at Dhoonidhoo detention centre.
“I’m also facing a life-threatening condition. But are you still continuing with this trial?” asked Adheeb of Judge Adam Arif.
Adheeb has been diagnosed with an internal cyst, kidney stones and a dangerous eye disease “glaucoma”, according to his family. With the proper medical treatments unavailable in the Maldives, his family has requested multiple times for authorities to grant permission for Adheeb to travel abroad for treatment. However, the state has denied the requests, stating that they cannot risk Adheeb absconding if given the opportunity to leave the country.
Judge Arif did not make any responses to Adheeb’s question as to why the trial is being continued.
Adheeb further noted that the judge presiding over the case was also a lawyer that had looked into the cases at the Prosecutor General’s Office.
“What I’m seeing here is the indicter and the judge becoming one and the same,” he said, describing the situation as a “conflict of interest” and demanding a change of judge for his trial.
However, Judge Arif merely responded that Adheeb, who was alone, may reiterate his complaints via his lawyer in the next hearing.
The prosecution countered Adheeb’s statements as false and asserted that the charges against Adheeb were those forwarded to the Prosecutor General’s Office by the Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) after investigating the MMPRC corruption case.
Adheeb argued that the state prosecution’s points cannot hold as the ACC is yet to release its report on the MMPRC corruption.
Thursday’s preliminary hearing concluded with the judge granting a period of 10 days for Adheeb to appoint his legal defence.
The MMPRC scandal is the largest case of corruption in the history of the Maldives, where MVR 1.2 billion worth of state funds received as acquisition costs via island leases for resort development had been embezzled through the corporation.
Adheeb is already serving a long jail sentence of 33 years for his involvement in the MMPRC corruption and for orchestrating an assassination attempt on the incumbent president. Should he be convicted of the new charges, he may face a sentence extension of maximum 27 years.