Maldives blast: Former Vice-President Ahmed Adeeb found guilty

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Maldives Vice-President Ahmed Adeeb pictured in November 2013Image source, AFP
Image caption,
Ahmed Adeeb denied playing a part in the explosion

The former vice-president of the Maldives has been convicted over a plot to assassinate the current president.

President Abdulla Yameen narrowly escaped injury when a blast struck the boat he was using to return home from the airport last September.

His then-deputy Ahmed Adeeb was arrested weeks later and charged with high treason.

He was sentenced to 15 years in prison on Thursday, days after receiving a 10-year sentence for owning firearms.

Adeeb denied playing any part in the blast, which the prosecution maintained was caused by a bomb.

The US Federal Bureau of Investigation, one of a number of agencies asked by the government to help with the investigation, said no bomb exploded.

In recent years, the Maldives has been rocked by political infighting.

"The criminal court has barred me from calling the trial unfair, but we have concerns and intend to launch an appeal immediately," Adeeb's lawyer, Moosa Siraj, told the Maldives Independent website.

"This was by no means a fair trial," Adeeb's second wife, Mariyam Nashwa, told the Maldives Independent.

"The investigation was nowhere near complete. I think they closed the trial because they are afraid Adeeb might say something."

Two of Adeeb's bodyguards were given 10-year sentences for their role.

Image source, Reuters
Image caption,
The blast was described as an assassination attempt

President Yameen and his wife were travelling to Male from Hulhule island where the airport is located on 28 September when their speedboat was hit by the blast.

They had been to the hajj pilgrimage in Saudi Arabia.

The president was unhurt, but his wife and and a number of others were injured when the device went off under a seat normally - but not in this instance - occupied by Mr Yameen.

Soon after the blast, speculation began to grow that Adeeb was involved, reports say. Under the Maldivian constitution, the vice-president succeeds the president if he dies, is incapacitated or resigns.

Officials described the attack as an assassination attempt.

Mr Yameen's predecessor, Mohamed Nasheed, who was ousted in a coup in 2012, was given refugee status in the UK last month.

Who else has been jailed?

Mr Adeeb is the fourth high-profile politician to be jailed on terrorism charges since Yameen Abdul Gayoom came to power in 2013. The other three are:

  • Former president Mohamed Nasheed was sentenced in March 2015 to 13 years in prison for ordering the military to kidnap a judge. He was allowed to travel to Britain for surgery in January and was granted political asylum last month.
  • Former defence minister Mohamed Nazim was sentenced to 11 years in prison in March 2015 for trying to topple the government.
  • Sheikh Imran Abdulla, leader of the opposition Islamist Adhaalath Party, was sentenced to 12 years in jail on terrorism charges in February. He was tried for inciting unrest during an anti-government rally in 2015.

All three have decried the charges as being politically-motivated.

Compiled by BBC Monitoring