In the first hearing of a trial on a terrorism charge, former Vice President Ahmed Adeeb said he was unaware of any evidence against him except for two statements that claimed he had carried a pistol on May 1, when tens of thousands of protesters took to the streets over the jailing of political prisoners.
Adeeb, who fell out of favour and was arrested following a mysterious blast on President Abdulla Yameen’s speedboat, is charged with terrorism for carrying a weapon.
Specific charges were not read out at today’s brief hearing as Adeeb asked for time to appoint legal counsel at the trial’s outset.
Adeeb told the three-judge panel that he was facing difficulties in hiring a lawyer because the state had failed to provide him with the details of the charges against him.
“I sent a letter asking the court to provide me with documents in this case. But I got only a summary of the charges which is not enough to hire a lawyer,” he said. “Some of my lawyers have been suspended. And with this brief information I am facing difficulties in hiring a new lawyer.”
“I was given a summary of the case. It only states two witnesses who claimed that I was carrying a pistol on May Day,” he said.
He was then cut short by judges and told charges would be read out when he appoints legal counsel.
State prosecutors said they have asked for several case documents to be kept confidential.
“However we have no problem in providing the defendant with his own statement given during investigation,” prosecutor Adam Arif said.
Judges gave Adeeb 15 days to appoint legal counsel. The next hearing has been scheduled for February 15.
Adeeb is also facing additional charges of bribery and corruption. According to the prosecutor general’s office, he will be prosecuted for missing funds from 53 resort leases. Some 50 cases have now been filed at court.
So far, only one hearing on one count of corruption has taken place. The unannounced hearing was held in a makeshift courtroom at the police remand facility on Dhoonidhoo Island.
No charges over the boat blast have been filed against Adeeb yet.
The terrorism charge first surfaced hours before Adeeb’s impeachment. Chief Superintendent of Police Hamdhoon Rasheed said: “We are investigating two cases against the vice president. The first is, Ahmed Adeeb Abdul Ghafoor attempted to exert undue influence and bribe some police’s intelligence officers into divulging state secrets and to make use of their skills for his personal benefit.
“The second: … members of the public have shared information with us, and some have given us statements that Adeeb possesses a pistol at his apartment. Both cases will be sent for prosecution within a few days.”
The former vice president was brought to court today under heavy guard. This is the only the second time he has been brought to Male since his arrest in October.
He looked nervous while seated at the waiting area outside the courtroom, but smiled and nodded to family members and reporters as he entered the courtroom.
Soon after his arrest, Adeeb was impeached in a controversial and sudden vote at the People’s Majlis. The vote took place a day after Yameen declared a state of emergency.
Adeeb’s associates have been targeted and arrested since the blast. Those under arrest and facing charges include the head of state owned Maldives Marketing and Public Relations Corporation Abdulla Ziyath and influential businessman Hamid Ismail.
Yameen escaped unhurt from the explosion. The government insists the blast was caused by a bomb, but Federal Bureau of Investigations said they had found no evidence of an explosive device on the boat.
The three judges overseeing the case are Muhthaz Fahumy, Saeed Ibrahim and Ahmed Rasheed.