Maldives VP arrested on 'charges of assassination attempt'
Maldives Vice President Ahmed Adheeb was arrested on Saturday in a probe over a speedboat explosion targeting President Abdulla Yameen, police and government officials told Reuters.
Yameen, 59, was unhurt in the Sept 28 blast as his presidential boat Finifenmaa approached the capital Male while he was returning from Saudi Arabia after the hajj pilgrimage, but his wife and two aides were injured. “We have arrested the vice president in relation to the Finifenmaa incident,” a police media official told Reuters. “He is now in police custody in Dhoonidhoo detention centre.”
Home minister Umar Naseer told Reuters: “he is arrested on the charges of assassination attempt.”
Adheeb’s arrest comes after defence minister Moosa Ali Jaleel was sacked by Yameen on Oct 14, amid a shake up in VIP security after the explosion. Two other military officials were also arrested immediately after the incident.
Police also said three Maldives National Defence Force (MNDF) officials have been arrested on Saturday along with Adheeb.
Adheeb was arrested at the airport when he was returning from China after participating in a conference.
A file picture of Maldives Tourism Minister Ahmed Adeeb from Nov 11, 2013, during a press conference in Male PHOTO: AFP
Local media had speculated that Adheeb had left the country to live in exile, but the vice president confirmed on Thursday in his Twitter feed that he would return.
Security was beefed up in the capital Male and journalists were not allowed into the airport, eyewitnesses said.
The government initially said the blast on the speedboat could be due to mechanical failure but later called it an attempt on Yameen’s life after investigators from the U.S. FBI, Saudi Arabia, Australia, and Sri Lanka ruled out mechanical failure as the cause.
On September 28, 2015, a person injured in an explosion aboard the presidential speedboat Finifenma (L) is transferred to an accompanying police speedboat at the official jetty PHOTO: AFP
A broader crackdown against political dissent belies the popular image of the Maldives, an island chain with a population of 400,000, as a holiday paradise, with radicalised youths enlisting in significant numbers to fight for Islamic State militants in the Middle East.
Meanwhile,following Adheeb's arrest, at least four people have been arrested by the police on Saturday for attempts to create unrest in the capital Male.
When questioned by journalists about the evidence against the vice president, Xinhua reports that Assistant Commissioner of Police Abdulla Nawaz said that evidence would be submitted to court and that if evidence was released to the public, it would impede the investigation.
Nawaz added that the police would not allow the disruption of peace in Male and while four people had been arrested those numbers could be higher.
Source: Reuters, Xinhua