The Prosecutor General’s Office has presented witnesses in the alcohol possession trial against tourism tycoon and MP for Meedhoo constituency MP Ahmed ‘Sun Travel’ Shiyam.
Two Customs Services officers who checked Shiyam’s bag in March 2012 at Ibrahim Nasir International Airport testified to finding an alcohol bottle in his luggage at the Criminal Court today, local media has reported.
A Maldives Airports Company Ltd (MACL) staff member who handled the luggage said they were not aware an alcohol bottle was in the bag when they took it for screening. The staff said the bag was unlocked and it was possible for someone to have put the bottle in the bag.
Two police officers who carried out forensic tests on the bottle testified that the substance in the bottle is alcohol.
Shiyam has denied charges, claiming he is being framed.
The penalty for alcohol possession in the penal code is either a fine of between MVR1,000 to MVR3,000, or imprisonment, banishment or house arrest for up to three years.
Under Article 73 of the constitution, an MP convicted of a criminal offence and sentenced to more than one year in prison will lose his or her seat in parliament.
The case has garnered controversy after Criminal Court Judge Abdulla Mohamed took over the case from Judge Ahmed Sameer following a complaint by Shiyam in which he said Judge Aziz’s “hand gestures and facial expressions” indicated a personal grudge against him which could lead to an unfair trial.
The MP for Dhaal Meedhoo is the leader of Maldives Development Alliance – which has 7,537 registered members and five MPs – and is founder of the Sun Travel and Tours company.