Foreign Minister Dunya Maumoon is in Colombo today to brief the diplomatic community on Vice President Ahmed Adeeb’s arrest. He is being held on suspicion of links to a blast on President Abdulla Yameen’s speedboat on September 28.
“Vice President Adeeb was arrested by the Maldives Police as a suspect, because an independent assessment and an impartial investigation of the explosion could not be carried out unless the Vice President was taken into custody. This step was considered a necessary step to protect the integrity of the investigation,” Dunya told the diplomatic corps this morning.
The police, with assistance from forensic experts from Sri Lanka, United States and Saudi Arabia, have established that the blast was targeted to assassinate or incapacitate Yameen, she said, according to a statement by her office.
The inquiry into the blast has also found that elements within the security forces attempted to tamper with and destroy evidence, she went on.
Adeeb will be afforded all rights under the constitution during the investigation and during a trial, if charges are brought, she assured.
Yameen finds the arrest of senior government figures in the boat blast probe “deeply unfortunate,” and is committed to ensure the investigation is conducted swiftly and transparently, she said.
Three soldiers, all explosives experts, are in police custody, while two senior-ranking officers are under administrative detention at the military barracks. They are the head of the military unit tasked with providing security to the president, and Adeeb’s bodyguard.
Adeeb is now facing impeachment at the People’s Majlis. The ruling Progressive Party of the Maldives (PPM) has collected 52 signatures on the impeachment motion, just five short of the number required to unseat him.
The vice president has denied any links to the boat blast, and called for an independent inquiry.
His lawyers have questioned the impartiality of the inquiry, noting Home Minister Umar Naseer, in interviews with local media, said he had suspected Adeeb’s involvement on the first day and pledged to collect enough evidence to incriminate the vice president.
Dunya also spoke on former President Mohamed Nasheed’s continuing imprisonment, despite a UN human rights panel finding that his detention on a terrorism charge is arbitrary and illegal.
The Supreme Court will consider the UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention’s non-binding opinion in an appeal, she said.
She admitted that the apex court has not yet decided whether to accept the appeal, and accused the opposition leader of obstructing the appeal process.
Following the meeting with the diplomatic community, Dunya also met with the British High Commissioner James Dauris, the American Ambassador Athul Keshap and EU Ambassador David Daly.
She also met with the press in Colombo.
Meanwhile, Dunya’s comments to India’s The Hindhu made headlines in Malé today.
When asked if she saw foreign involvement in the blast, she replied: “It would be wrong to speculate as to who was responsible or who conspired in this criminal act. There is no concrete evidence to say this was a coup d’état or an act of terrorism. It would be simple speculation or guesswork to try and do so at this stage.”