The High Court on Wednesday began hearing an appeal from a man found guilty of planting a bomb near the official presidential residence in November 2015.
After a secret trial, Mohamed Ubaid was handed a 17-year jail term in June last year along with co-defendants Zihan Ahmed and Thal’ath Mohamed. A fourth suspect, Mohamed Mamdhooh, was sentenced to 20 years.
They were charged with terrorism and accused of planting an improvised explosive device on a fuel tank of a vehicle parked near Muleeaage.
A High Court media official told the Maldives Independent that opening statements were presented at the first hearing today. A spokesman from the Prosecutor General’s office was unavailable for comment despite repeated calls.
The bomb plot, which the government alleged was a second attempt to assassinate President Abdulla Yameen, was among the reasons offered to justify a short-lived state of emergency.
Yameen, who was living in his private residence Dhoovehi in the Galolhu ward of capital Malé at the time, only uses Muleeaage for official meetings. The first family moved to Hilaaleege, formerly the official residence of the vice president, in November 2016.
The news of the bomb was met with disbelief by segments of the public. It was found a few days after the arrest of former Vice President Ahmed Adeeb on suspicion of plotting to assassinate his boss by blowing up the presidential speedboat.
In August this year, the criminal court conducted a similar closed hearing for four other suspects arrested on allegations of trying to carry out a bomb attack in Malé.
The suspects – Iuthisam Mohamed, Nasin Mohamed, Shiman Shareef and Mohamed Thasleem – were arrested in late April after police conducted midnight raids in three houses in the capital.
According to media reports, the four suspects were also affiliated with terrorist organisations involved in recruiting Maldivians to fight in Syria.