Detained former Vice President Ahmed Adeeb has confirmed the authenticity of a document authorizing former President Mohamed Nasheed’s transfer from jail to house-imprisonment.
Adeeb, who is accused of plotting to kill President Abdulla Yameen, said it was the president himself who made the decision to commute the opposition leader’s 13-year jail term.
The home ministry, however, insists the July 19 document was forged and has launched an investigation.
In a statement today, Adeeb’s lawyers said: “The government decided to permanently transfer President Nasheed to house-imprisonment and the president ordered the Maldives Correctional Services to issue a document confirming the transfer. Acting on this order, the MCS delivered the document to President Nasheed.
“The vice president [Adeeb] confirms that the document was issued in accordance with set procedures and wishes to assert that he had no role in disputing its authenticity.”
Adeeb was Yameen’s most trusted minister at the time the document was issued. He went on to assume the vice presidency, but fell out of favor and was detained after a mysterious blast on the president’s speedboat.
He is now in police custody awaiting trial on charges of terrorism and corruption that are not related to the blast.
In today’s statement, Adeeb’s lawyers said the government is unfairly blaming their client for Nasheed’s re-imprisonment as part of a concerted effort to undermine him.
Nasheed, who was sentenced on a terrorism charge, was first transferred to house arrest ahead of talks between his Maldivian Democratic Party and the government. The initial three-day period was later extended to eight weeks.
His arrest and jailing had triggered daily protests, including two historic demonstrations.
When the long-awaited talks began, the MDP backed several government-proposed constitutional amendments. The amendments included new age limits of 30-65 years for the presidency and vice presidency and an unprecedented provision allowing foreign freeholds in the Maldives.
As talks proceeded, the then-Vice President Dr Mohamed Jameel Ahmed was impeached, while the new age-limits paved the way for Adeeb, who is just 33 years old, to assume the vice presidency.
A pardon was expected for Nasheed ahead of the country’s Golden Jubilee of Independence, but the state instead announced it would appeal his terrorism conviction. The move prompted MDP to accuse the government of failing to honor its commitments.
Nasheed’s lawyers later revealed that Yameen had commuted his sentence, and the Maldivian High Commission in Colombo confirmed the move to the AFP. However, in a surreal twist in August, Nasheed was returned to jail.
The police’s investigation of the document involved a midnight raid on Nasheed’s residence. At the time, his wife Laila Ali said the document had been sent abroad for independent forensic analysis.
In December, Nasheed’s lawyers said forensic tests had found that the same state seal that had been used on previous documents issued by the Maldives Correctional Services was used on the disputed document.
Nasheed’s brother Ibrahim Nasheed and lawyer Hassan Latheef were summoned to the police headquarters last week and asked to identify the MCS employee who had delivered the document.
The MDP has repeatedly called on the government to honour the commutation, and have lodged a separate case at the High Court asking for an order to enforce the commutation.
The criminal court had previously rejected a petition by lawyers challenging the legality of his re-imprisonment.