Forensic experts from Saudi Arabia found trace of a powerful explosive on President Abdulla Yameen’s speedboat, the national inquiry commission has said in a press statement tonight.
“A chemical analysis of samples taken from the launch found RDX, a chemical rated as a high explosive and the main element used in making powerful explosives such as C4,” the statement read.
Yameen escaped unhurt from the September 28 explosion, but First Lady Fathimath Ibrahim remains hospitalised for injuries.
Experts from Saudi Arabia, Sri Lanka, India, US and Australia flew in within a day of the blast. At the time, the government said the blast was possibly caused by mechanical failure. In early October, citing a forensic report by Sri Lankan experts, the inquiry commission said the explosion was caused by a bomb targeting the president.
RDX, the chemical found on Yameen’s speedboat, Finifenmaa, is reportedly more powerful than TNT.
The Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI) and Indian forensic experts are yet to share their reports with the government.
The blast has deepened a political crisis in the Maldives – Vice President Ahmed Adeeb is the main suspect. He was arrested on October 24 on suspicion of plotting the alleged assassination attempt.
At least three soldiers are in police custody, while the head of the military unit tasked with providing security to the president, Colonel Ahmed ‘Papa’ Fayaz, and Adeeb’s bodyguard Ahmed Amir are under administrative detention at the military barracks.
Adeeb has denied involvement in the blast. He is now facing impeachment through the People’s Majlis.
Yameen had accused his deputy of obstructing the inquiry by exerting undue influence over the police force. The police chief and two deputies were also sacked in a shakeup of the police force.
Defence Minister Moosa Ali Jaleel was fired for authorising state-owned Maldives Marketing and Public Relations Corporation (MMPRC) to import fireworks. Yameen has suggested the fireworks may have been used to make the bomb.
The MMPRC’s Managing Director Abdulla Ziyath is also in custody. Yameen said the tourism promotion company had used funds from leasing islands for resort development to influence the police force.
Hamid Ismail, an influential businessman related to Adeeb, was also arrested in Malaysia. His home was also raided.
Adeeb’s 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.
The inquiry commission is co-chaired by Naseer and Yameen, and comprises of six-high ranking police and military officers.