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Authorities silent over Luthufee capture

The fugitive has been in captivity at the Maldives embassy in Colombo for over two months.



Abdullah Luthufee, 69, led an armed coup attempt in 1988.

The authorities are refusing to disclose to the media information about the capture of wanted fugitive Abdullah Luthufee, 69, in Colombo, Sri Lanka.

Luthufee, who was serving a commuted death sentence for an armed coup attempt in 1988, escaped while on a medical visit to India in 2010.

The authorities have been attempting to capture him since and he is on an Interpol red notice for “abscondment … while undergoing treatement in India”.

The armed coup attempt of 1988 saw 19 Maldivians murdered, as mercenaries from a terrorist organisation in Sri Lanka attempted to take over the government.

The news of Luthufee’s capture was first revealed by former home minister Umar Naseer, who accused the Maldivian government of hiding Luthufee at the Maldivian embassy in Colombo.

“This terrorist, who killed 19 Maldiveans [sic] is hiding at the Maldives embassy in Colombo. There is an Interpol Red Notice on him,” he tweeted on Monday.

Following Naseer’s tweet, the Maldives police issued a statement confirming that Luthufee had been in custody since May. 

Police said that Luthufee surrendered himself at the Maldivian embassy on May 1 and that they were working alongside Sri Lankan authorities to extradite him to the Maldives.

However, when asked by the media why Luthufee’s capture had been kept a secret for more than two months they were directed to speak to the Maldivian authorities.

The Maldives embassy in Colombo told reporters to refer questions to the foreign ministry, but the spokesman for the foreign ministry refused to take questions on the issue. Police also refused to disclose further details about the case.

According to local media, Luthufee had voluntarily walked into the Maldives embassy because he was concerned about being arrested by the Sri Lankan authorities, who had stepped up visa checks on foreigners following the Easter Sunday attacks.

Luthufee was initially sentenced to death but had his sentence commuted to life imprisonment as the Maldives has an unofficial moratorium on the death penalty. If he had served his sentence it would have expired in 2014.