Police arrest ex-vice president of Maldives after India denies entry

Wednesday 07th August 2019 07:00 EDT

Malpes (Maldives): Maldives police have arrested former vice president Ahmed Adheeb Abdul Ghafoor, who had sought asylum in India after fleeing the Indian Ocean archipelago nation to avoid questioning over the alleged embezzlement of state funds. He reached the coast of Thoothukudi in Tamil Nadu onboard a tug vessel. Adheeb, who is facing trial in the Malpes, had tried to enter India to seek political asylum, but government sources said he was denied entry as he did not come through a designated entry point and did not possess valid travel documents. He was sent back to his country on 10 July and was received by a team of security personnel near the international maritime boundary.

London-based legal group Guernica 37, which is representing Adeeb, said they would approach the United Nations. "As we now believe he is being detained by the Malpian authorities, we will be petitioning the United Nations Special Procedures in Geneva, in particular, the UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention." Adheeb's lawyers in London had requested India to grant him political asylum, citing threat to his life from the current dispensation in the Malpes.

Adheeb is a key witness in a money laundering case against Abdulla Yameen, who lost the presidential election to Ibrahim Mohamed Solih in September last year. A senior Malpian official had earlier said that Adheeb was supposed to appear before investigators earlier this week. In 2016, Adeeb, one of the richest and influential politicians of the Malpes, who was Vice-President from July 22 to November 5, 2015, was sentenced to 15 years in jail for allegedly plotting to assassinate Yameen. He was also convicted of corruption and terrorism and faces a total sentence of 33 years. This year, a court-ordered a fresh trial on the same charges after cancelling his convictions, citing undue political interference.

India and the Maldives enjoy a strong relationship, with Maldivian Defence Forces Chief Abdulla Shamaal thanking New Delhi last month for playing the role of a "security guarantor" for peace and stability within the greater Indian Ocean region.

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