Vice President Ahmed Adeeb exerted undue influence over the police to obstruct the investigation into an alleged attempt to assassinate him, President Abdulla Yameen has said.
Addressing the nation for the first time since the blast on the president’s speedboat on September 28, Yameen revealed that “bomb-making equipment” was discovered in the homes of two soldiers arrested on suspicion of tampering with evidence.
The vice president was also working with MPs of the main opposition Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) as well as ruling party MPs to impeach the president, Yameen said in a lengthy televised statement.
“I noted that the vice president’s influence and power was spread very much over the whole police institution. This is not how I desired it to be,” he said.
Yameen said he was “surprised” to discover the extent of Adeeb’s influence over the police, which he gained by providing “various official and unofficial resources the police needed, outside of the government’s budget.”
The police faced “difficulties and obstacles” in the investigation of the boat blast, he continued, including “numerous efforts to destroy evidence” and problems in executing search and seizure warrants at the homes of suspects.
The owners of the homes also knew of the police raids in advance, he said.
Faced with the obstacles, Yameen said police investigators believed that crucial pieces of evidence have been eliminated.
Home Minister Umar Naseer said last week that Sri Lankan foreign experts have confirmed that a bomb targeting Yameen caused the explosion on the boat.
Yameen meanwhile stressed that Adeeb’s “isolation” was necessary to conduct the investigation.
“The reason the vice president had to be isolated is because bomb-making equipment has been found in some homes that have been searched of those arrested for the investigation,” he said.
The equipment was found in the homes of two explosives experts from the military who inspected the speedboat immediately after the blast, Yameen said. The two soldiers were the first suspects arrested.
Yameen said they “did things they did not have to” on the boat.
A third soldier from the military’s Explosive Ordnance Disposal (EOD) unit was then arrested upon his arrival in the Maldives from abroad, he revealed.
The police have since established links between the soldiers and Adeeb’s bodyguards, he said.
The suspects refusing to answer questions related to their “official work” is the most serious impediment for the investigation at present.
Yameen said he did not believe the constitutional right to remain silent extended to government officials and soldiers withholding such information.
“They should say what they did or did not do within official work if they have nothing to hide,” he said.
The police meanwhile raided the Maldives Marketing and Public Relations Corporation (MMPRC) office and the home of its managing director to determine how Adeeb raised funds to influence the police, Yameen said.
From Ziyath’s home, police uncovered “request letters” with the police letterhead to obtain “resources to be used for official purposes.”
Ziyath answered some questions when summoned to the police headquarters, but refused to disclose how much money the MMPRC has raised from leasing islands and lagoons.
“When Abdulla Ziyath refused to tell the police investigation about the money that comes into [MMPRC] and what is done with it, the police believed that he was hiding things out of necessity,” he said.
“I told the vice president about this while he was in Singapore. And before that, I met Abdulla Ziyath at the president’s office at his request. I told him to fully cooperate with the police investigation. He told me ‘yes,'” he said.
Adeeb also assured that he would provide the information to the police through Ziyath. But Ziyath was arrested because he chose to remain silent, Yameen said.
Yameen also acknowledged that recent changes to the top leadership of the police were prompted by the “extent of the vice president’s influence”.
Police Commissioner Hussain Waheed and two deputy commissioners were transferred to government ministries a day before Adeeb’s arrest.
“Things were similar in the army. Within the army, one man was in charge of three of the most powerful departments. He has been detained at the military headquarters,” Yameen said, referring to Colonel Ahmed Fayaz ‘Papa.
“He was the head of the [Special Protection Group], the unit that provides security to the president. Because I trusted him, he was also in charge of ordinances or explosives and weapons armory. The EOD department that checks for explosives and disposes of them is also under Fayaz’s watch. Fayaz was in charge of all three departments. That is why he has been placed under arrest,” he said.
Yameen also revealed that he had not been provided police intelligence information since July. A newly-appointed head of intelligence stopped reporting to the president.
“But from what we know, the vice president was officially and unofficially gathering intelligence,” he said.
Yameen said he met senior police officers after the blast and told them he “did not believe that such an incident could have happened without the knowledge of the police intelligence directorate.”
“Even now, I do not believe this could have happened without their knowledge, that this could have escaped them.”