An attempted coup in the Maldives is being investigated, police said Monday, after revealing that bribes of more than US$2.7million were exchanged as part of a plot to overthrow the government of President Abdulla Yameen.
Police spokesman Ahmed Shifan told reporters Sunday night that US$260,000 had been found in a bag belonging to Supreme Court Justice Ali Hameed, one of two judges arrested after Yameen declared a state of emergency.
The cash was in US dollars and Maldivian rufiyaa.
Shifan also said a business in the Maldives gave a US$2.4million loan to Hameed’s family, alleging the money was used to buy an apartment.
He also confirmed the detention of Ibrahim Siyad Gasim, son of opposition leader Gasim Ibrahim, and Fathmath Nasira, who is Hameed’s wife. Two MPs have also been arrested: Ahmed Faris Maumoon and Abdulla Sinan.
Faris is the son of former president Maumoon Abdul Gayoom, who is accused of orchestrating the coup, and police are still searching for MP Ahmed Ilham as a person of interest in the case.
Ilham and Sinan are lawmakers who were stripped of their seats after they left Yameen’s ruling party. They were reinstated after the Supreme Court annulled its previous anti-defection ruling.
Police claimed to have found a black case with documentary evidence incriminating Faris in the coup attempt. In the statement issued Monday, police said there was evidence that individuals involved in the case had bought apartments abroad.
Shifan said police had questioned 30 people and raided 15 locations as part of the coup investigation.
“Our investigation has also confirmed that former president Maumoon Abdul Gayoom has been helping the Hameed family in various different ways,” he told the media.
Police asked for the public’s support in the probe, asking them to share any information they might have about the attempted coup.
But Gayoom’s lawyer, Maumoon Hameed, challenged the police allegations:
“If they have evidence and proof, there is no reason for them to conduct this investigation under a state of emergency. They have suspended the whole Criminal Procedures Act and all due process rights. That means there are no procedures related to conducting an investigation or a trial. That is not acceptable. I believe that they are doing this on purpose.
“President Gayoom has not even been questioned yet. If this is such a huge investigation and Gayoom is a dangerous person of interest, why have they not questioned him in over 140 hours?”