10 June 2016; The Criminal Court of the Maldives sentenced former Vice-President of the Maldives, Ahmed Adheeb Abdul Ghafoor for 15 years in jail on charges of conspiring to assassinate the President. His two military bodyguards, Hassan Rikaz and Ahmed Amir were both sentenced to 10-years’ imprisonment. This follows on from the previous conviction of Mr Adeeb on weapons and explosives charges. Mr Adeeb also faces further charges of large scale corruption and misappropriation of State funds. The Court is expected to give a verdict on these charges in the coming days.
In a separate matter, former Prosecutor General, Muhthaz Muhsin was sentenced to a 17-years in jail for conspiring to kidnap the President of Maldives.
Both verdicts were announced on 9 June 2016.
The defendants’ legal representatives in both matters have confirmed that they intend to file an appeal with the High Court of the Maldives. As such, it would be inappropriate to comment on the specific facts and circumstances of the case whilst it remains an active matter. It is however appropriate to observe some of the comments that have already emerged that seek to infer that the courts lack the requisite independence and that trials are politically motivated.
The Government of the Maldives firmly respects and believes in the rule of law and the independence of the judiciary is a fundamental requirement in any democracy. The Judiciary, and the criminal justice system is entirely independent of the executive as it should be, and as it will remain so. There is no governmental involvement in these or any other case, and all such matters are judged on the facts and evidence presented before the court. In this regard, it is not for the Government to comment on the verdicts. It is important that due process has been observed and that the convictions are safe. That will be a matter for the High Court to rule upon in due course in both matters.
It has been reported in the media that following an inquiry carried out by the FBI it had stated there was no explosion. This is quite incorrect. What the FBI reported back to the Government of Maldives and also to the media was there was “no conclusive evidence” to attribute the explosion to the presence of high explosive materials. However, two other independent foreign investigative agencies (from Sri Lanka and Saudi Arabia), after extensive analyses of the blast, concluded that the explosion was caused by an IED. Furthermore, the forensic evidences in this case, other than the bomb residual, were done in Thailand. In this regard, it is to be noted that the Prosecution argued at trial, that security personnel of the former Vice President had attempted to remove all traces from the crime scene. This undoubtedly impeded the investigation and hindered the forensic analysis. Any suggestion to the contrary is merely scurrilous, and an obvious attempt to besmirch both the judiciary and the Government. The appropriate way for discontent and opposition to be registered is through a democratic election, and not by way of other violent, or otherwise unlawful means.
The Government of the Maldives condemns any attempt to subvert or circumvent the lawful and democratic system of governance in the Maldives and any such attempt by any person, irrespective of political affiliation, to overthrow a democratically elected government will face the full extent of the law.