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Maldives Ex-Pres Fights Corruption Jailing

FILE - Maldivian President Abdulla Yameen speaks as he gives a statement at President office in Male, Maldives September 24, 2018.

Former Maldives president Abdulla Yameen will appeal as soon as possible against his conviction and jailing for 11 years on corruption and money laundering charges, said his lawyer.

Abdulla Yameen, the opposition Progressive Party of Maldives (PPM) candidate for the next election due in 2023, was sent to a
prison on Maafushi island on Sunday to start his sentence following the order from the Maldives criminal court.

Yameen, 63, has denied any wrongdoing and will serve his time in a special compound in the prison which has been previously used to jail other high profile politicians.

Former Maldives vice president Mohamed Jameel Ahmed, who is leading Yameen's legal team, said they will appeal against the criminal court's verdict without delay.

A day after the verdict and sentencing, the court has now issued the trial and case reports to Yameen's legal team, an official said on Monday afternoon.

Jameel had said earlier that the defense was not provided the full written judgement.

"It's quite absurd that the court has issued a verdict of guilty without producing its judgment or case report," Jameel said.

"Our concern is that serious breach of fairness has already taken place due to delay of judgment copy as defense is paralyzed from filing appeal which is a fundamental right under Article 56 of our constitution."

The PPM protested against Yameen's conviction on Sunday, with police arresting 16 people before releasing them later, the party said. PPM officials told local media that the party will continue its protests.

"We reiterate our belief that this trial and verdict is a political witch-hunt against our presidential candidate...and call for his immediate and unconditional release," the PPM said in a statement.

Yameen, who lost power in 2018, will remain the party's presidential candidate for the 2023 election, it said.

Situated close to strategic shipping lanes in the Indian
Ocean, Maldives is a focal point for competition between India
and China over influence in the region.