Monday 22nd Jul 2024
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President Yameen

Lost Justice: Political Witch-hunt and Judicial Intervention

In December of last year, former Maldivian President Yameen was fined and jailed on charges of bribery and money laundering. This happened just before he was named the presidential candidate for the PPM party, and his third election campaign was about to begin. This timing has led many to suspect that the MDP government is attempting to demoralize its political opponents through a political witch-hunt. Yameen has previously been arrested on similar charges but was released for lack of evidence, making it difficult not to suspect a conspiracy behind the government's re-arrest of an opposition presidential candidate on the eve of a general election.

Charges of Bribery and Money Laundering

Former President Yameen was sentenced to 11 years in prison by the Criminal Court for bribery and money laundering in connection with the V. Aarah case. However, the verdict has been widely criticized for a lack of transparency, and the judge in Yameen's case was alleged to have been coerced into delivering a guilty verdict, as revealed in an audio clip released in September of last year. This has left people with little faith in the justice system.
The MDP government was also aware that the unjust sentence would provoke large demonstrations, and they repeatedly disrupted peaceful gatherings, arresting and beating up protesters. In December of last year, protesters, including Male' city Mayor Dr. Muizzu, were arrested. On February 6th of this year, two journalists were assaulted by police while covering a peaceful protest. The International Federation of Journalists has expressed concern over the harassment and violence towards media workers, and has called for all journalists to be allowed to report without fearing for their safety and security.
It is widely believed that the charges against Yameen are based on flimsy evidence, and are part of an effort to disqualify him from the presidency by keeping the opposition busy with lawsuits. This would prevent them from focusing on the election, making it easier for the MDP government to achieve their re-election dreams.

India's Position and 'India Out' Campaign

Over the past two years, Yameen and the PPM have spearheaded a nationwide 'India Out' campaign, which has led people to realize the government's compromise and weakness towards India, and to oppose their unequal relations and unfair deals. India has tried to prevent Yameen from taking part in the election, with the PPM alleging that India directly interfered with the judicial process during his trial. India has been cracking down on anti-India activities, and the MDP government has become their best partner, making it a crime to express anti-India sentiments. India fears that Yameen, if elected, will oppose the act of selling national territory and sovereignty.
Yameen's legal team has successfully cleared him of corruption charges in the past, but the government has jailed him again on similar charges. This lack of concern for the truth and the manipulation of the justice system in favor of political gains is a huge failure of democratic politics and judicial independence in the Maldives.