FBI agent, Saudi Arabian forensic experts arrive in Malé for boat blast probe

FBI agent, Saudi Arabian forensic experts arrive in Malé for boat blast probe
September 29 10:52 2015

A US Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) agent and a team of Saudi Arabian forensic experts have arrived in the Maldives to assist an investigation into an explosion on the presidential speedboat that injured the first lady.

The FBI agent arrived at 10:30pm last night while the nine-member team from Saudi Arabia arrived at 1:30am this morning.

The government is also seeking help from the Australian federal police.

The explosion occurred at 8am on Monday on the “Finifenmaa” launch on which President Abdulla Yameen was returning to Malé after performing the hajj pilgrimage in Saudi Arabia. He escaped unhurt.

Footage of the incident from the state broadcaster Television Maldives (TVM) shows First Lady Fathimath Ibrahim being carried out on to the deck of the boat. A visibly shocked Yameen attempted to attend to his wife, but was quickly hustled to a waiting police vessel.

Journalists awaiting the president at the Izzudin jetty heard a loud blast just before the speedboat docked at the pier, followed by glass shattering, and saw the door on the speedboat fall off its hinges.

Mohamed Hussain Shareef, the presidential affairs minister, said that forensic experts from the Western Australian police as well as from India and Sri Lanka will join the investigation team today.

“The investigation has now taken a more international feel to it… because we want to get to the bottom of this as soon as possible,” he told reporters in Colombo last night.

The blast may have been caused by a mechanical failure, but officials are not ruling out the possibility of an attempt on Yameen’s life, he said.

The first lady suffered minor bone fractures and remains hospitalized. A presidential aide and a bodyguard were also injured.

The ruling Progressive Party of the Maldives, the main opposition Maldivian Democratic Party and the Human Rights Commission of the Maldives have called for a speedy and thorough investigation.