Obstruction of justice charges have been raised against former vice president Ahmed Adeeb over his foiled attempt to flee the Maldives, the Prosecutor General’s office said on Tuesday.
The 37-year-old fled in late July as a stowaway on a tugboat in defiance of a travel ban imposed by the Supreme Court. The Indian authorities held him for questioning when he arrived at the Tuticorin port – where he was denied entry despite seeking asylum – and handed him over to the Maldives police at the maritime border.
The Supreme Court has since detained Adeeb until the conclusion of appeal hearings. The PG office sought the detention order after challenging a High Court decision that set aside Adeeb’s conviction over the theft of US$5 million paid as a resort acquisition fee.
After serving three years in prison over the embezzlement scheme and an alleged plot to assassinate former president Abdulla Yameen, Adeeb was transferred to house arrest in the wake of his former mentor’s defeat in September’s presidential election.
In late May, Adeeb walked out of court an innocent man after his 33-year combined sentence on terrorism and corruption charges was wiped out by the appeal courts, which cited political influence and ordered retrials.
According to police, Adeeb escaped after he was due to appear for questioning over the theft of US$90 million from state coffers in the country’s biggest corruption scandal.
“Adeeb was cooperating with us on all cases,” a senior Maldives security official told Al Jazeera. “But maybe somewhere along the way he realised he might have to go back to jail because of the cases before the Supreme Court.”
The official suggested Adeeb might have been “scheming to abscond all along.”
Last week, Adeeb testified as a prosecution witness in Yameen’s money laundering trial, claiming to have followed the former president’s orders in siphoning off acquisition fees paid to the Maldives Marketing and Public Relations Corporation to lease islands and lagoons for resort development.
Adeeb called himself “a victim of a tyrannical regime” and claimed to have been threatened with murder or poisoning after signing a cooperation agreement with the authorities.
The beneficiaries of the stolen funds included people in high offices of the state, including ministers, judges and lawmakers, he told the court.