The criminal court refused entry to reporters and members of the public today to observe closing arguments in former Vice President Ahmed Adeeb’s terrorism trial.
Hearings were scheduled for 11am and 1am in separate trials on charges of abuse of authority and terrorism, both of which stem from the September 28 explosion on President Abdulla Yameen’s speedboat.
Adeeb, who was handed a 10-year jail sentence Sunday night on a separate terrorism charge, is accused of masterminding the alleged assassination attempt.
Sunday’s verdict was delivered in a hearing closed for alleged “national security reasons.”
“I have no idea why today’s hearings are also being held in secrecy,” said Adeeb’s lawyer Moosa Siraj.
Court officials also failed to explain the need for secret proceedings, but a media official told online outlet CNM that the hearings were closed for “security” reasons.
In addition to the two counts in relation to the speedboat blast, Adeeb is also on trial on two counts of corruption.
Hearings have meanwhile been closed to the public since Saturday after Judge Abdul Bari Yousuf took over all five of Adeeb’s cases last week.
In an apparent rush to reach completion, the controversial acting chief judge of the criminal court has held back-to-back hearings in Adeeb’s trials since Wednesday.
Bari was among a three-judge panel that sentenced former President Mohamed Nasheed and former Defence Minister Mohamed Nazim to jail after widely condemned trials in March last year.
The judge also sentenced Adhaalath Party leader Sheikh Imran Abdulla to 12 years in prison last February.
Adeeb’s lawyers are meanwhile preparing to appeal his terrorism conviction.
Siraj had called the verdict unfair as it was based on the testimony of anonymous witnesses who claimed Adeeb showed them a bag containing a pistol.
Prosecutors claimed the 34-year-old had plotted to kill or cause bodily harm during a mass protest organised by the opposition on May Day last year.
But the prosecution failed to present the weapon as evidence.
Former Vice President Dr Mohamed Jameel Ahmed, leader of the newly-formed Maldives United Opposition, has also condemned the “unfair trial,” which he said was “conducted without even the minimum evidentiary requirements of conviction.”
Jameel alleged that his successor was found guilty “on direct instructions from President Yameen.”
Besieged by multiple crises sparked by the jailing of high-profile politicians, Yameen has maintained that the under-fire Maldivian judiciary is free of undue influence.
Additional writing by Ahmed Naish