The High Court yesterday overturned the conviction of former MP Ibrahim Ameen on charges of embezzlement.
Ameen was the ruling Progressive Party of Maldives (PPM) MP for Raa Ungoofaru, a seat previously held by his late brother, Dr Afrasheem Ali.
The moderate religious scholar was brutally murdered on October 1, 2012. Ameen had won the by-election for Dr Afrasheem’s vacant seat, but did not seek re-election last year.
In May 2014, Ameen was found guilty by the criminal court of embezzling MVR36, 818 (US$2,388) from the Ungoofaru Island Council Office between May 2004 to April 2006 and sentenced to banishment of four years and six months.
Ameen was found guilty as he had been responsible for all incoming cash, but was unable to explain how the cash from the island’s powerhouse went missing.
However, the High Court noted that Ameen’s inability to explain how the money went missing did not amount to a confession or grounds to convict in the absence of other conclusive evidence.
A second brother of Dr Afrasheem, Abdul Nasir Ali, was also handed an 11-year banishment sentence in April 2014 for embezzling MVR114,325 (US$7,414) from the island office. Nasir was also found guilty of embezzling fees paid by the power house.
On April 8 this year, the High Court overturned Nasir’s conviction as well. In Nasir’s case, the appellate court ruled that the funds in question were provided out of Nasir’s pocket to buy diesel for the island’s powerhouse, which reimbursed him through the island office.
The court noted that witness testimony during the criminal court trial proves Nasir’s defence.