Three Sri Lankan nationals involved in the case concerning the discovery of hundreds of bottles of cheap alcohol in a car belonging to Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) Parliamentary Group leader ‘Reeko’ Moosa Manik, have been sentenced to one year in jail.
The Criminal Court identified the three men as Isru Priyankara Disilva Nufehevage, Niroshan Don and Muhaidhee Mohamed.
The four men were arrested in February last year, while loading 168 bottles of whiskey and menthol gin into a car registered to Moosa, on the same day controversial liquor licensing regulations were unveiled by the Ministry of Economic Development.
Moosa, who was in Singapore at the time of the incident, has maintained that his driver was bribed and the bottles were planted in his car to attack him politically.
Moosa observed at the time that television station DhiTV “has been showing the incident non-stop for 24 hours.”
“The last time I was in an advertisement for a liquid was with my brother in a television ad for Sun-Up,” he said, suggesting that he should now be paid royalties for every bottle sold.
According to the Sunday’s ruling, the expats – including Reeko Moosa’s driver – told the court that the alcohol bottles were “gifts” and that some other people were involved. However, the ruling stated that they were unable provide any evidence to back their story.
Deliberating on the evidence submitted to the court by Prosecutor General’s Office (PGO), the court charged the three men for illegally importing alcohol to Maldives and sentenced each if them to one year imprisonment.
According to the Criminal Court, importing alcohol without a license from the Ministry of Economic Development is prohibited under article 5(b) of Contraband Act of 1975.
Although three men were convicted, the main suspect identified as the leader of the group fled during the police investigation.