State prosecutors submitted a list of witnesses and forensic evidence to the criminal court on Thursday to make its case that former Vice President Ahmed Adeeb masterminded the September 28 blast on President Abdulla Yamen’s speedboat.
Hisham Wajeeh, spokesman for the Prosecutor General’s office, told The Maldives Independent that a forensic analysis report of Adeeb’s mobile phone was submitted to prove that he had planned to flee the Maldives if the alleged assassination attempt was unsuccessful.
“The report shows that Adeeb had used his phone to search online for ways to assassinate the president using chemicals or explosives and that he had searched for ways to flee the country and obtain a visa from another country,” he explained.
Adeeb and his former military bodyguards, Sergeant Hassan Rikaz and Corporal Ahmed Amir, are accused of planting an improvised explosive device on the Finifenma speedboat.
All three have pleaded not guilty to terrorism charges, which carries a jail sentence of between 10 to 15 years. The former vice president is also standing trial on a separate charge of abuse of authority.
Along with documentary evidence, state prosecutors also submitted a list of 13 anonymous witnesses at Thursday’s hearing of the terrorism trial.
The prosecution plans to call soldiers to testify that Adeeb and his bodyguards went on the speedboat to the presidential retreat island Aarah a day before the explosion.
“We also presented medical reports from four people onboard the Finifenma launch to show that they were injured and three crime scene reports, one from the raid of Adeeb’s residence in Rehendi flats, another from the Finifenmaa launch, and a report from the operation in Hibalhidhoo, where the weapons were found,” Hisham said.
Adeeb’s lawyer meanwhile presented a list of defence witnesses to the court on Thursday, including the first lady and former President Maumoon Abdul Gayoom.
Adeeb’s lawyer Moosa Siraj told The Maldives Independent that Gayoom – Yameen’s half-brother and leader of the ruling Progressive Party of Maldives – would be called to show that he had used the Finifenma speedboat on the eve of the explosion, after Adeeb’s trip to Aarah.
The first lady would be questioned to show that her youngest son was sent to Malé on a different speedboat on the day of the blast, Siraj said.
Five other witnesses would meanwhile be called to show that Yameen attempted to remove Adeeb from his administration before the Finifenma incident.
The defence also plans to call other witnesses to prove that Adeeb had not specifically requested the use of the Finifenma speedboat for his Aarah trip.
The defence will also attempt to show that the explosion was caused by a mechanical failure as proper maintenance had not been conducted for two years.
The mysterious explosion occurred around 8:00am on the morning of September 28 just as Finifenma docked at the Malé pier. The speedboat was carrying the president and first lady from the airport upon their return from performing the Hajj pilgrimage in Saudi Arabia.
Yameen escaped unharmed, but First Lady Fathmath Ibrahim, a presidential aide, and a bodyguard sustained minor injuries. The first lady was hospitalised for more than a month with spinal injuries.
Less than three months after he was appointed vice president, Adeeb was arrested on October 24 upon his return from an official visit to China. The 33-year-old’s arrest was preceded by a purge of his allies in the government and the security services.
The government insists that a bomb targeting the president caused the explosion despite contradictory findings from forensic experts.
The FBI found no conclusive evidence of an explosive device on the speedboat, but the government said Saudi Arabian forensic experts found traces of a powerful chemical explosive.
Adeeb has maintained that the explosion was staged to frame him.
Adeeb and two of his close associates are also on trial on multiple corruption charges in connection with the theft of nearly US$80 million from the state-owned tourism promotion company, which came to light in the wake of the Finifenma blast.