Monday 19 February 2018

Maldives ex-vice president jailed for 10 years on terrorism charge

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 court in the Maldives has convicted the country's former vice president on a terrorism charge for possession of firearms and sentenced him to 10 years in prison.

The decision by the Criminal Court in a session on Sunday which was closed to the media made Ahmed Adeeb the fourth high-profile politician to be jailed on a terrorism charge since President Yameen Abdul Gayoom was elected in 2013.

Former president Mohamed Nasheed, former defence minister Mohamed Nazim and head of a leading political party Sheikh Imran Abdulla are the others to be given lengthy jail terms. Nasheed has since been granted asylum in Britain.

The cases have been criticis ed for a lack of due process violations.

Adeeb still faces charges of trying to assassinate Mr Gayoom when an explosion hit the presidential speedboat last year.

Mr Gayoom made his trusted young protege Adeeb his vice president last July after sacking his running mate in the 2013 election.

However, Adeeb was arrested just days after the September blast on Mr Gayoom's speedboat. The blast injured the president's wife, an aide and a bodyguard.

Later, authorities charged him with possessing firearms prohibited under the country's terrorism law, and with corruption.

The government said the mysterious blast was an assassination attempt even though FBI investigators said they found no evidence of a bomb explosion.

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

Nasheed along with Mr Gayoom's running mate Mohamed Jameel, who also lives in Britain, and supporters of Nazim and Adeeb formed a united opposition in exile last week with the aim to oust the president.

The 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 for his role in jailing a sitting judge.

He left for Britain in January on medical leave, apparently for back surgery, and later was given asylum.

Press Association

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