‘Bomb maker’ granted witness protection, say local media

‘Bomb maker’ granted witness protection, say local media
June 15 17:03 2016

The Prosecutor General’s Office has granted immunity and witness protection to a soldier who testified to making two bombs for former Vice President Ahmed Adeeb, local media report. 

Adeeb was convicted of terrorism last week and sentenced to 15 years in jail over the September 28 explosion on the president’s speedboat.

He was found guilty of plotting to assassinate President Abdulla Yameen based on the secret testimony of the military’s explosives expert.

Local media outlets CNM, Avas, and Mihaaru have identified the anonymised witness as Mohamed Jawaz, and reported that he has been placed under witness protection.

But a credible and informed source told The Maldives Independent on the condition of anonymity that Jawaz remains in police custody.

“The PG office has not yet decided whether to charge him or to offer him witness protection. It could be because they may need him to testify in Adeeb’s other cases that the police have not filed with the PG yet,” the source said.

Adeeb may face several further counts of corruption as the police investigation into the theft of US$80 million from state coffers is ongoing.

Maldivian laws presently lack procedures for granting immunity from prosecution or reduced sentences in exchange for testimony. A new and long overdue criminal procedure code, however, will come into force in February 2017.

In the meantime, the PG office could opt for a lesser charge against Jawaz.

But spokesmen for the PG office and the police declined to comment.

The police media official said: “We do not need to reveal the information of individuals in our custody, we only reveal if we believe the public needs to know about it.”

Jawaz had claimed during the trial that he had prepared two improvised explosive devices for Adeeb using a chemical called Pe4.

The first bomb was intended to be set off on May 1 last year during a mass opposition protest, he said.

The soldier also testified to reducing the amount of explosives in the second bomb from 200g to 60g when he heard Adeeb say he would not receive Yameen when he returned from Saudi Arabia on the eve of the blast.

Adeeb’s lawyers had argued that the prosecution’s key witness was unreliable as he is yet to face charges despite confessing to building a bomb.

The explosion on the Finifenma speedboat had led to a purge of the vice president’s supporters and associates in the government and the security forces.

The defence minister was sacked and the police chief was transferred to the housing ministry.

Adeeb, formerly the president’s right-hand man and powerful tourism minister, was arrested less than a month after the explosion.

Yameen had escaped unharmed, but his wife, an aide, and a bodyguard sustained minor injuries.

Meanwhile, the foreign ministry earlier this week objected to media reports suggesting that the FBI had ruled out the possibility that a bomb caused the explosion.

“This is quite incorrect. What the FBI reported back to the government of Maldives and also to the media was there was ‘no conclusive evidence’ to attribute the explosion to the presence of high explosive materials,” the ministry said.

“However, two other independent foreign investigative agencies (from Sri Lanka and Saudi Arabia), after extensive analyses of the blast, concluded that the explosion was caused by an IED.“

Adeeb’s lawyers had highlighted the conflicting forensic reports during the trial. The defence also argued that the Saudis had suggested the explosion may have been caused by gas buildup inside the air conditioning system.

But the foreign ministry said Adeeb’s bodyguards “had attempted to remove all traces from the crime scene.”

“This undoubtedly impeded the investigation and hindered the forensic analysis,” it added.

“Any suggestion to the contrary is merely scurrilous, and an obvious attempt to besmirch both the judiciary and the government. The appropriate way for discontent and opposition to be registered is through a democratic election, and not by way of other violent, or otherwise unlawful means.”