Former Defence Minister Ameen Faisal is under investigation over President Abdulla Yameen’s nine-day detention at the presidential retreat island, Aarah, in 2010.
Faisal was summoned Tuesday to the police headquarters for questions on terror charges and has been barred from leaving the country.
“Since it happened so long ago, I said I do not remember much. But I did say that Abdulla Yameen was never arrested unlawfully,” Faisal told reporters after an hour-long interrogation.
Mohamed Fareed, Faisal’s lawyer, said police accused his client of ordering Yameen’s “abduction,” an offence that carries a jail term of up to 15 years under the now-defunct Anti Terrorism Act of 1990.
“Ameen said Yameen had sought the army’s protection of his own will,” Fareed claimed.
Moosal Ali Jaleel, the chief of defence forces at the time of Yameen’s detention who later served as defence minister in Yameen’s cabinet, was also summoned for questions on Tuesday. He declined to comment on his six-hour interrogation.
Jaleel was sacked in the wake of a blast on Yameen’s speedboat a year ago.
The investigation comes amid renewed tension in Malé with a broad coalition of opposition parties and former government officials seeking to oust Yameen on allegations of corruption and human rights abuses, including the widely-condemned jailing of former President Mohamed Nasheed on a terrorism conviction.
“I believe this is [Yameen’s] end. That is why he is acting like this,” Ameen told opposition-aligned Raajje TV.
The Maldives National Defence Forces took Yameen into what it called “protective custody” on July 14, 2010, after violent clashes erupted outside the then-MP’s residence between pro-government and opposition supporters amid an acrimonious deadlock between the executive and the opposition majority parliament.
In a phone interview from Aarah, Yameen told a television station that he was being held against his will. He was only allowed access to his family and lawyer.
Nasheed said he was “forced” to isolate political leaders and government officials claimed Yameen’s detention was necessary because of risks to his safety by an irate public.
At the time, Yameen and Gasim Ibrahim, the leader of the Jumhooree Party, were under investigation on charges of treason, bribery and corruption.
The pair had been arrested on June 29, 2010, hours after Nasheed’s entire cabinet resigned in protest over what it called “scorched earth tactics” of the parliament, which had passed several laws curtailing the executive’s powers. The next day, the criminal court transferred the pair to house arrest for three days.
Recordings of discussions between Yameen, Gasim and other lawmakers implicating them in apparent bribery were posted on the Internet shortly after their release.
The civil court later ruled Yameen’s detention unconstitutional and ordered the police to pay out MVR244,000 (US$15,823) in damages.
Xiena Saeed contributed reporting from Malé