Male, Maldives: The president of the Maldives appealed for calm Sunday, one day after his deputy was arrested on suspicion of links to an assassination attempt against him, and said the arrest was made in the best interest of the country.
Vice President Ahmed Adeeb was detained Saturday, nearly a month after an explosion aboard President Yameen Abdul Gayoom’s boat that was later determined to be an assassination bid.
“The decision (to arrest) was not easy, but it was taken for the security of the country,” Gayoom told reporters.
A criminal court on Sunday allowed police to detain Adeeb for 15 days for questioning. He was not brought to court, but judges linked up with him and his lawyers through teleconferencing.
Home Minister Umar Naseer said Saturday that Adeeb would be charged with “high treason,” an offense not specified in the penal code, but a term used in the Maldives for terrorism or offenses against the state by government officials, lawmakers, judges and others.
Adeeb’s lawyer, Hussain Shameem, denied the allegations against the vice president.
Gayoom was unhurt when an explosion went off on his speedboat on Sept. 28 as he was traveling to Male, the capital, from the airport at the end of a hajj pilgrimage to Saudi Arabia. Gayoom’s wife, an aide and a bodyguard were injured in the blast.
Authorities said initially that the explosion could have been the result of a mechanical failure, but they announced later that it was an attempt to assassinate Gayoom and launched a criminal investigation.
The device used to set off the explosion had been placed under the seat usually occupied by the president, who escaped uninjured because he was not sitting there, the government has said.
Gayoom said Sunday that an investigation pointed to links between Adeeb and two soldiers who were arrested for tampering with evidence on the boat soon after the blast. He said police found bomb-making materials at the homes of the soldiers in a subsequent raid.
The president said that while he had dismissed Adeeb from heading some committees, he would not initiate an impeachment to strip him of the vice presidency until his case is decided by a court.
Seven people, including Adeeb, were being held for questioning.
Adeeb was a staunch Gayoom loyalist and became vice president in July at the age of 33. Gayoom was instrumental in promoting Adeeb from tourism minister after the president got his lawmakers in parliament to impeach the previous vice president, Mohamed Jameel.
Lawmakers also lowered the minimum age for president and vice president from 35 to 30 to enable Adeeb to take the position.
The Maldives became a multiparty democracy in 2008, ending a 30-year autocracy by Gayoom’s half-brother.
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