Ahmed Adeeb, the former vice president of Maldives, and two of his military bodyguards have been found guilty by the criminal court for plotting to assassinate the president using a bomb on the presidential speedboat.
Adeeb was convicted of terrorism and handed a 15-year jail sentence.
Hassan Rikaz and Ahmed Amir were given a 10-year sentence each.
President Abdulla Yameen had escaped unhurt from the September 28 explosion, but the first lady and two presidential aides sustained minor injuries.
The former vice president is already serving a ten-year jail term for plotting a terror attack against opposition protesters on May Day last year. The case was based on statements made by three anonymous witnesses.
“The criminal court has barred me from calling the trial unfair, but we have concerns and intend to launch an appeal immediately,” the defence counsel Moosa Siraj said.
The verdict was read out in a hearing closed to the public for alleged national security reasons.
Adeeb’s second wife, Mariyam Nashwa said: “This was by no means a fair trial. The investigation was nowhere near complete. I think they closed the trial because they are afraid Adeeb might say something.”
The former vice president was Yameen’s right-hand man until the explosion on the speedboat, Finifenmaa. It prompted a purge of the security forces and the cabinet, and led to a short-lived state of emergency in November.
Prosecutors claim Adeeb and his bodyguards boarded the speedboat, Finifenmaa, on the eve of the explosion and planted a bomb behind the president’s usual seat.
A soldier who gave anonymous testimony said he had prepared two bombs for Adeeb on his request, using an explosive called Pe4. The first bomb was intended to be set off on May Day last year during a major opposition protest, he said.
The soldier said he reduced the amount of explosives in the second bomb from 200g to 60g when he heard Adeeb say he would not go and receive Yameen when he returned from Saudi Arabia on the eve of the blast.
The defence claims the prosecution’s key witness is not reliable as he is yet to face charges over the bomb plot. The remains of a bomb described by the solider were never found on the boat, defence counsel said.
They also highlighted what they called conflicting evidence, noting the FBI had said it found no traces of explosives on the boat. The Saudis said they found a trace of the explosive RDX on one swab but also suggested the explosion may have been caused by gas buildup inside the air conditioning system, the defence counsel said.
Neither of the reports have been made public.
Charges were pressed under the now-defunct terrorism law of 1990.
Adeeb’s sentencing is the latest in a series of prosecutions against senior leaders, including former President Mohamed Nasheed, two defence ministers and the leader of the Adhaalath Party.
The judge who handed both sentences against Adeeb played a key role in the sentencing of the opposition leaders.
Adeeb is also standing trial on corruption charges relating to the theft of some US$6million from tourism leases.
Additional reporting by Xiena Saeed and Mohamed Saif Fathih