SUPREME COURT QUASHES LOWER COURT JUDGMENT AGAINST FORMER OMAN OIL CEO

Muscat: Supreme Court has quashed the judgment of a lower court on charges brought against Ahmed al Wahaibi, former CEO of Oman Oil Company.

It also returned the case to a lower court to be heard by a new set of judges.

“The case will get a fresh hearing on February 16,” Jihad al Taie, Wahaibi’s lawyer, told Muscat Daily.

The Court of Appeal had earlier on February 27, 2014, issued its judgment in a case brought against Wahaibi. He was sentenced to a total of 23 years in jail, including ten years for money laundering, ten years for bribery and three years for misuse of power.

Taie said that he had appealed to the Supreme Court on April 3, 2014 against the Court of Appeal’s judgment. “The Supreme Court took a long time to come out with its decision on December 9, 2014. The court took all our arguments under consideration and accordingly, it dismissed the Court of Appeal’s judgment in full. Not a single element in the old judgment remains valid,” explained Taie.

He added that the Supreme Court has also returned the case to the same lower court to be heard by a fresh panel of judges.

Taie said, “It shows that we have the right and capable judicial system in the country. With the Supreme Court starting to amend or dismiss the judgments of lower courts, it has sent out a strong signal that the Supreme Court will not necessarily approve any judgment coming to it from these institutions.”

It should also be noted that even the Court of Appeal has changed judgments by primary courts and has reduced imprisonment and fines by almost one third the original judgments in some cases, according to Taie.

Does he expect the same for his client? “I expect he should be pronounced innocent, as I am sure that he did not do anything against the law, and did not interfere in any project that was related to his position. All the projects that the courts are judging him for were not under his jurisdiction,” he explained.

Taie said that while his client made a mistake in accepting a monetary gift from another party, it didn’t amount to bribery or money laundering. “It is not a misuse of position, according to the Omani law, to receive money for something that has no relation to the work one is doing.”

Taie added that if this was the only case, Wahaibi would have been free by now. He still remains behind bars as there is another case against him. “I am sure that Omani courts will in the end, take the right decision,” he added.

SOURCE: MUSCAT DAILY