Two associates of Vice President target of late night raids

Two associates of Vice President target of late night raids
October 15 08:58 2015

Dozens of police officers raided a top tourism official’s apartment in Malé on Wednesday night and attempted to enter the home of an influential businessman related to Vice President Ahmed Adeeb.

At 9pm, police officers entered Hiyaa Koalhi, an apartment building in the Henveiru ward of Malé, where several officials, including a minister, a ruling party MP, and the prosecutor general, live.

Officers searched the second floor first and later searched the eighth floor, where Abdulla Ziyath, the managing director of state-owned Maldives Marketing and Public Relations Corporation, lives.

Ziyath is a close associate of the vice president. Adeeb had served as tourism minister for four years before he was appointed as the president’s deputy this July.

Just before police entered his apartment, Ziyath tweeted: “Please be informed that it was not my apartment that was raided tonight.” Police officers were seen carrying brown paper bags when they left the building around 11:30pm.

A police spokesman declined to give reasons for the raid.

At midnight police officers were seen entering Shuraa Manzil in the Maafanni ward, where Hamid Ismail, the managing director of Gulf Craft, a company that produces fiberglass boats and yachts, lives. It is not clear when police officers left the premises.

Opposition aligned Raajje TV said police were turned back when residents refused to allow policemen in over issues with a court warrant. Credible sources have confirmed the same to The Maldives Independent.

A police spokesman admitted that police officers entered the house, but suggested they had not sought to search the premises. He declined to comment when questioned further.

Rumors of Hamid’s imminent arrest have been swirling in Malé since dozens of police officers were seen outside his residence a week ago. At the time, a spokesman told local media that the police were conducting a drill.

The police’s Wednesday night activities are adding fuel to speculation that Adeeb and his associates are suspects in an investigation into the apparent assassination attempt on President Abdulla Yameen on September 28.

Yameen escaped unhurt from an explosion on the presidential speedboat, but First Lady Fathimath Ibrahim remains hospitalized for injuries to her spine.

The popular daily Haveeru reported that the raid on Ziyath’s apartment was in connection to a complaint filed by the former owner of an online newspaper who alleged that he was forced to transferring its ownership by men who had said they were acting on Adeeb’s orders.

The raid comes a day after Adeeb departed for Beijing to inaugurate a four-day investment forum.

On the eve of his departure, Adeeb had declared his unwavering loyalty to Yameen and sought to dismiss speculation of his involvement in the attack.

Defence Minister Moosa Ali Jaleel was also sacked on Wednesday. The head of the military unit tasked with providing security for state officials and the police intelligence chief were also replaced last week. The pair are reported to be Adeeb’s men.

Two of Adeeb’s bodyguards have also been suspended, while three soldiers were arrested in connection with the blast.

Local media said that the soldiers, who had access to the speedboat soon after the explosion, were arrested on a charge of tampering with evidence.

Despite apparent divisions between the president and his deputy, Yameen reportedly said he has “500 percent confidence in Adeeb” at a meeting with more than 60 MPs of the ruling coalition and its former partner Jumhooree Party on Monday.

The investigation, headed by Home Minister Umar Naseer, is not targeting a specific individual, he is reported to have said. However, he asked MPs to respect the outcome of the investigation, whatever it may be, according to an MP present at the meeting.

Adeeb had not been present on the speedboat when the blast occurred. He later said he had taken ill on the eve of Yameen’s return from Saudi Arabia.

Armed soldiers have meanwhile been deployed to the streets of Malé.

Prosecutor General Muhthaz Muhsin is out of the country on an unannounced personal trip. The PG is an independent official authorized to press criminal charges on behalf of the state.

Rumors also swirled in Malé last night of the arrests of several individuals linked with Adeeb. Many including ruling party MP Yameen Rasheed took to social media to clarify that he was not in police custody. A speedboat that belongs to Yameen was stopped for “reckless driving” last night.

Correction: October 17, 2015: This article previously said two soldiers and an immigration official were arrested in connection to the boat blast. This is incorrect. All three arrested over the explosion are MNDF officers. An immigration official was never arrested in this case.