Former vice president “cleared” of boat blast allegations

Former vice president “cleared” of boat blast allegations
December 27 15:22 2015

Former Vice President Ahmed Adeeb is no longer being held in custody on suspicion of masterminding the September 28 blast on the president’s speedboat, his lawyers have claimed.

Adeeb’s lawyers said in a statement today that the police have confirmed that he has been cleared of suspicion over the alleged attempt to assassinate President Abdulla Yameen.

“According to the police, Adeeb is now only accused in the [Maldives Marketing and Public Relations Corporation corruption] case. Apart from questions posed on the first day over the boat blast, no further questions have been put to Ahmed Adeeb in the investigation,” reads the statement.

“Therefore, as we’ve said before, the government’s allegations of a bombing and ‘high treason’ were made without any evidence and for political purposes.”

The government says a bomb targeting the president caused the explosion on the ‘Finifenma’ speedboat. Yameen escaped unhurt, but the first lady, a presidential aide, and a bodyguard sustained minor injuries.

Adeeb was arrested at the airport on October 24 upon his return from an official visit to China. Three soldiers and several of Adeeb’s associates were also detained in the boat blast probe. However, the state has yet to press criminal charges against any suspects over the alleged bombing.

Adeeb has meanwhile been charged with corruption over missing funds from resort leases, and terrorism on suspicion of carrying a weapon. The missing funds from the MMPRC are thought to run into tens of millions of dollars.

An unannounced first hearing in the corruption case took place on December 17 via teleconference at the police detention centre on the island of Dhoonidhoo.

Judge Abdulla Mohamed granted Adeeb a 30-day period to appoint a lawyer and ordered the police to keep Adeeb in custody until the trial concludes.

The corruption and terrorism charges were filed in late November after the parliament abruptly removed former Prosecutor General Muhthaz Muhsin and appointed Yameen’s legal affairs secretary Aishath Bisham to the post.

A police spokesperson declined to comment on the claims by Adeeb’s lawyers, saying a press statement will be issued shortly.

Home Minister Umar Naseer meanwhile told newspaper Haveeru today that charges will be filed against Adeeb as he is the “primary suspect” in the boat blast.

“God willing, he will be convicted as well,” he was quoted as saying.

Naseer is the co-chair of an inquiry commission formed by the president to investigate the boat blast. Adeeb’s lawyers have previously questioned the impartiality of the probe after Naseer said that the then-vice president was the prime suspect from day one.

In their statement today, Adeeb’s lawyers went on to say that the influential former vice president did not make any decisions concerning the MMPRC, the government’s tourism promotion office, without the president’s knowledge or approval.

Adeeb is accused of abuse of authority in the lease of a single island out of the 53 islands involved in the MMPRC corruption scandal. If convicted of “misuse of government information or authority to obtain benefits,” Adeeb will be jailed for a period of four years.

Lawyers also criticised the terrorism charges against Adeeb over the alleged possession of a pistol. The charges are based on “hearsay,” they said. The police had said that members of the public claimed that to have seen a pistol in Adeeb’s apartment.

The lawyers also said that the Prosecutor General’s office has yet to share the case documents and list of witnesses with the defence counsel.

Adeeb’s legal team has also filed a case at the civil court over alleged discrimination by the police in granting visitation rights. Lawyers have previously said that family members are not able to meet and talk with Adeeb directly during visits to Dhoonidhoo.

“Family meets Ahmed Adeeb through a barrier now. They have to talk on a phone. Adeeb is inside a room and the family members have to stay outside and talk through a phone,” lawyer Hussain Shameem told the press last month.

The lawyers also called on independent state institutions to investigate and take action over the government’s “unlawful and unconstitutional acts against Ahmed Adeeb”.

In an op-ed published on The New Indian Express earlier this month, Adeeb said that both himself and Yameen “have been the victims of a despicable conspiracy, launched, I believe, by my political foes in and outside the cabinet.”

“I believe the speedboat incident was staged, in order to frame me,” he said.

  Categories: