Monday 5 December 2016

Maldives' former vice president jailed over plot to kill country's leader

Published 09/06/2016 | 23:12

Former president of the Maldives Mohamed Nasheed has been granted asylum in Britain
Former president of the Maldives Mohamed Nasheed has been granted asylum in Britain

A Maldives court has convicted the country's former vice president of masterminding a plot to kill the president by exploding a bomb on his speedboat last year and sentenced him to 15 years in prison.

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Ahmed Adeeb must serve a total of 25 years after the same criminal court sentenced him earlier this week to 10 years for possessing firearms.

Two of his military bodyguards were given 10 years each for being part of the plot.

Adeeb is the fourth high-profile politician to be jailed on terrorism charges since Yameen Abdul Gayoom was elected president in 2013. The South Asian country is best known for its luxury island resorts.

Adeeb's lawyers said they would appeal the sentence.

Mr Gayoom escaped unhurt in the September blast while he was travelling by boat from the airport to the capital of the archipelago state. But his wife, an aide and bodyguard were wounded.

The government had stood by its claim that the mysterious blast was an assassination attempt even though FBI investigators concluded they saw no evidence of a bomb blast.

Mr Gayoom appointed Adeeb, his once trusted protege, as vice president, last July after sacking his running mate in the 2013 election.

However, Adeeb became a suspect immediately after the blast and days later he was arrested and charged with plotting to kill the president. On Tuesday he was convicted in a separate case of possessing firearms, prohibited under Maldivian law.

Human rights groups have accused Mr Gayoom of jailing opponents and potential challengers in order to tighten his grip on power.

Maldives former president Mohamed Nasheed, former defence minister Mohamed Nazim and Sheik Imran Abdulla, leader of a prominent opposition party are the other leaders given lengthy prison terms since Mr Gayoom assumed office.

Maldives has a long history of being ruled by autocratic leaders.

Mr Gayoom's half-brother Maumoon Abdul Gayoom ruled the country from 1978 to 2008 until he lost to Nasheed in the country's first multi-party election.

Nasheed resigned in 2012 after weeks of public protests over his role in jailing a sitting judge.

Last year he was convicted of ordering the military to kidnap the judge and sentenced to 13 years in prison

He was allowed to travel to Britain earlier this year apparently for back surgery and since he has been given asylum there.

Press Association

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