The criminal court heard Wednesday charges against a 27-year-old Sri Lankan national accused of plotting to assassinate President Abdulla Yameen.
Lahiru Madhushanka is charged with conspiracy to commit murder.
He is standing trial along with former Vice President Ahmed Adeeb, Yameen’s former right-hand man, who is now serving a 33-year prison sentence on corruption and terror charges.
Two others, Fazeel Hameed and Ishaaq Hussain are also on trial.
Prosecutors said Adeeb had conspired with Fazeel to hire a sniper to assasinate the president.
Madhushanka accepted the contract and flew into the Maldives in October, and Ishaaq, who was charged with accessory to murder, was said to have delivered his payment.
The alleged sniper was arrested on October 24, the same day Adeeb was arrested on suspicion of links to an explosion on Yameen’s speedboat that September.
Adeeb was found guilty of terrorism in June and handed a 15-year sentence over the boat blast, which prosecutors said was caused by a bomb.
Former Home Minister Umar Naseer claimed Adeeb had hired the sniper after Yameen escaped unscathed from the bomb blast.
“Though a sniper rifle hasn’t yet been found, police have recovered a telescope and bullet used in such rifles. It’s now established that the suspect knew that his target was the president. Investigations have confirmed that there was a planned sniper attack on the president,” Naseer told Reuters at the time.
At Wednesday’s hearing, all four asked for three days to appoint a lawyer.
The criminal court granted the request and ordered Madhushanka be kept detained until the trial’s conclusion.
Sri Lankan media have reported that Madhushanka was a dry fish seller, and the Colombo-based Daily Mirror, citing the defence ministry, said he was not attached to the Sri Lankan military.
At the time of his arrest, reliable sources said Madhushanka was first arrested on a charge of “distributing money to groups and attempting to create unrest.”
The police announced his arrest after Yameen declared an unprecedented 30-day state of emergency in early November.
Madhushanka’s arrest along with the expulsion of a Maldivian social media activist from Sri Lanka had strained relations between the two neighbours. In an unprecedented move, Sri Lanka criticised the emergency decree and warned the Maldives against creating “regional instability.”