Maldives jails former V-P for plotting to kill President

MALE • Former Maldives vice-president Ahmed Adeeb has been jailed for 15 years for plotting to assassinate the President, the latest in a string of prosecutions of senior politicians and opposition figures in the troubled island nation.

Adeeb was convicted on Thursday of attempting to kill President Abdulla Yameen by setting off a bomb on his speedboat last September, his lawyer said. Two of Adeeb's military bodyguards were each sentenced to 10 years' jail after the trial, which was held behind closed doors.

The verdicts mean almost all of Mr Yameen's key rivals are in jail or exiled from the Maldives, a popular honeymoon destination rocked by political turmoil in recent years.

They come weeks after Mohamed Nasheed, the country's first democratically elected president, was granted asylum in Britain.

Nasheed was sentenced to 13 years' jail on controversial terrorism charges last year, but was allowed to travel to Britain for surgery in January and granted political asylum last month.

Adeeb, 34, was considered a close confidant of Mr Yameen until he was dramatically impeached last November, following allegations he was trying to topple the President.

Mr Yameen escaped the blast unscathed, but his wife and two others were slightly injured. The United States Federal Bureau of Investigation was called in to investigate the incident, but found no evidence that the blast was caused by a bomb.

Reporters were barred from attending the trial after the court invoked national security concerns and said it would not make the hearings or verdict public.

Adeeb was given a separate 10- year sentence on Sunday on a terrorism charge relating to his role in cracking down on an anti-government protest in May last year.

Opposition activists say dissidents risk arrest or exile under Mr Yameen, the half-brother of former strongman Maumoon Abdul Gayoom, who ruled the archipelago for 30 years until he was defeated in the country's first democratic election in 2008.

Last July, Mr Yameen sacked then Vice-President Mohamed Jameel after accusing him of conspiring to seize power. Dr Jameel is now living abroad in self-imposed exile.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on June 11, 2016, with the headline 'Maldives jails former V-P for plotting to kill President'. Print Edition | Subscribe