The Maldives’ former Vice President Ahmed Adeeb has been convicted of terrorism moments ago. He was handed a 10-year jail sentence.
The verdict was delivered in a hearing closed to the public and the press, for alleged “national security reasons.”
Defence lawyer Moosa Siraj has labeled the trial unfair and said he will appeal the verdict.
“Adeeb expected this verdict, he was smiling when the verdict was read out,” Siraj said.
Prosecutors claim the 34-year-old had plotted to kill or cause bodily harm during a mass protest organized by the opposition on May Day last year. Adeeb was charged under the now defunct Anti- Terrorism Act of 1990.
Verdicts in a second count of terrorism, two counts of graft and a count of abuse of authority against the former vice president are still pending.
The court has now wrapped up hearings on the remaining count of terrorism, relating to the September 28 explosion on President Abdulla Yameen’s speedboat, and a corruption charge over the embezzlement of US$5million from state coffers.
A verdict is expected in both cases on June 7, Siraj said.
Tonight’s ruling follows back-to-back hearings that began on Wednesday, when the controversial judge, Abdul Bari Yoosuf, took charge of all five cases.
Hearings have been closed to the public since Saturday.
The acting chief judge of the criminal court had played a key role in the sentencing of prominent opposition leaders in the past year. This includes former President Mohamed Nasheed, two defence ministers, and the leader of the Islamist Adhaalath Party.
The defence said tonight’s verdict was based on hearsay, noting prosecutors had failed to present the weapons to court.
The prosecution’s evidence included testimony by two anonymous witnesses who claimed Adeeb showed them a bag containing a pistol on the eve of the protest.
The pair also claimed they saw explosives in the bag containing the explosives, and one claimed he saw bullets.
A third anonymous witness, introduced at the trial’s conclusion, also said he saw Adeeb handle a pistol at an apartment at the Rehendhi Flats. A photo the soldier took of the pistol was also submitted to court.
The defence argued that the first two witnesses were not capable of identifying a weapon as they were not firearms experts. Lawyers said the photo was inadmissible as it did not link the pistol to Adeeb.
The claim first surfaced hours before Adeeb was impeached in an abrupt vote in November. The vote was called amid an unprecedented state of emergency that lasted six days.
Adeeb’s spectacular fall from power followed the alleged assassination plot against Yameen. The explosion led to a purge of the security forces and the cabinet.
Adeeb had fiercely defended the judiciary’s independence until his arrest. He has now pledged support to the opposition.