Jailed former vice president Ahmed Adeeb must not be allowed to flee before a fresh investigation into the abduction of Ahmed Rilwan, the missing journalist’s family said Saturday.
In a press statement, Rilwan’s family expressed concern and displeasure with growing calls from opposition leaders to authorise Adeeb to seek medical treatment overseas.
The family fears Adeeb – who serving a 33-year sentence on multiple counts of corruption and terrorism – will not return if he is allowed to leave the country.
“Our family believes that Ahmed Adeeb needs to be questioned and investigated in relation to Rilwan’s abduction. Previously revealed information points to Adeeb’s connection with people suspected of abducting Rilwan,” the family said.
Adeeb’s departure would hinder president-elect Ibrahim Mohamed Solih’s campaign pledge for a fresh inquiry into Rilwan’s abduction, they added.
“It is saddening that those calling to let Adeeb travel abroad includes politicial leaders in the opposition coalition,” they noted.
“At a time that the country is facing many human rights problems, we call on the opposition coalition to understand that this chance to make a good political change is a time to proceed wisely and on the right path, to start anew with a clear step to not let someone accused of violating many people’s rights escape.”
Several senior figures of the Maldivian Democratic Party-led four-party coalition have called for Adeeb’s medical release.
“It is 3 years since former VP Adeeb was jailed. As all prisoners, he must be treated humanely and must be allowed to go abroad for medical treatment as advised by doctors,” former president Maumoon Abdul Gayoom tweeted last week.
Aishath Nahula, a Jumhooree Party council member and wife of JP leader Gasim Ibrahim, echoed the calls.
MDP MP Mariya Ahmed Didi, the president-elect’s spokeswoman, tweeted: “I’m told jailed Former VP Ahmed Adeeb’s condition is getting worse with him developing kidney stones & cysts that need urgent attention. He has a problem with his eyes too which needs treatment. Everyone should have access to proper medical treatment.”
Imthiyaz Fahmy, the MDP’s spokesman, told the Maldives Independent that while Adeeb must receive medical treatment, “the concerns of Rilwan’s family must be heard and addressed.”
Since Solih’s victory in the September 23 presidential election, Adeeb’s supporters and lawyers have stepped up a campaign for Adeeb to be allowed to fly overseas for treatment for glaucoma, kidney stones and internal cysts.
Outgoing President Abdulla Yameen was adamant that Adeeb would not be allowed to leave until he returned stolen money.
– Four years on –
Adeeb was previously questioned in relation to Rilwan’s abduction after his arrest on charges of conspiring to assassinate the president.
On the fourth anniversary of Rilwan’s disappearance last August, Adeeb issued a statement through his lawyer denying any involvement in allowing a suspect arrested over the abduction to leave the country.
After nearly two years of denying any link between Rilwan’s disappearance and an abduction reported outside his building, police said in April 2016 that he was indeed forced into a car at knife-point.
Despite waiting nearly two years to confirm hostile surveillance, the Maldives Independent learned that police knew Rilwan was followed before his abduction on August 8, 2014 by Mohamed Suaid, who was allowed to leave the country after his release from custody in November 2014.
Suaid, who was charged in absentia three years later, left the country in January 2015 with Azlif Rauf, a former soldier charged in connection with the murder of moderate religious scholar Afrasheem Ali.
Their families say the pair died fighting in Syria.
Terrorism charges over Rilwan’s abduction were raised in August last year against Suaid along with Azlif’s brother Alif Rauf and Mohamed Nooradeen.
A few days before the fourth anniversary, Alif and Nooradeen were acquitted by the criminal court with the judge exposing glaring investigative and prosecution failures.
Rilwan’s family said the not guilty verdict showed “at minimum state complicity and, at worst, active involvement in Rilwan’s abduction and disappearance.”
Photo by Shaari