President forms advisory committee after speedboat blast

President forms advisory committee after speedboat blast
September 29 17:48 2015

President Abdulla Yameen has formed an advisory committee with three high-ranking police and army officers in the wake of an unexplained explosion on the president’s speedboat yesterday.

Ibrahim Muaz Ali, spokesperson at the president’s office, told The Maldives Independent that the committee will advise the president to ensure that such incidents do not occur in the future.

“This is not a presidential commission or an investigative committee. It is only an advisory one to make sure yesterday’s incident will not have room to repeat,” he said.

The committee does not include either the head of police or the military.

The committee consists of Vice Chief of Defence Forces Brigadier General Ahmed Shahid, Colonel Abdul Rauf, and Captain Ali Ihusan from the Maldives National Defence Force (MNDF), and Assistant Commissioners Mohamed Jamsheed and Abdulla Nawaz as well as Chief Station Inspector Mohamed Shamih from the police.

Rauf and Jamsheed are the heads of the military and police intelligence departments, respectively. All six members reportedly took an oath after their appointment.

A blast occurred around 8:00am yesterday on the “Finifenmaa” speedboat on which President Abdulla Yameen was returning to Malé after performing the hajj pilgrimage in Saudi Arabia.

He escaped unhurt, but First Lady Fathmath Ibrahim suffered minor bone fractures while a presidential aide and bodyguard also sustained injuries. All three were hospitalised.

Footage of the incident from the state broadcaster Television Maldives (TVM) shows the first lady 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.

A US Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) agent and a team of Saudi Arabian forensic experts have meanwhile arrived in the Maldives to assist the investigation.

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.

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 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.

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