Lawyers rebut govt fears of jailed ex-VP absconding

Former VP Ahmed Adheeb wave before boarding a flight for an official trip to China in 2015: he was arrested upon his return on charges of orchestrating an explosion aboard the presidential speedboat in an attempt to assassinate President Yameen. FILE PHOTO/PRESIDENT'S OFFICE

Former VP Ahmed Adheeb wave before boarding a flight for an official trip to China in 2015: he was arrested upon his return on charges of orchestrating an explosion aboard the presidential speedboat in an attempt to assassinate President Yameen. FILE PHOTO/PRESIDENT’S OFFICE

The government on Tuesday declared that there is a high chance of jailed former Vice President Ahmed Adheeb absconding if allowed to go abroad for medical treatment, which his lawyers have refuted.

The former vice president is currently serving a jail sentence of total 33 years in three convictions. His family claim that he is suffering from an internal cyst, kidney stones and a dangerous eye disease ‘glaucoma’, and have repeatedly requested authorities for permission to send Adheeb abroad for treatment.

Addressing the issue at a press conference at the President’s Office, Attorney General Mohamed Anil stated that the government will not obstruct the provision of proper medical treatment to Adheeb. However, he declared that the risk of sending Adheeb abroad is too high in light of his current convictions and ongoing trials.

AG Anil stressed that Adheeb is convicted of orchestrating an assassination attempt on President Abdulla Yameen’s life in September 2015, and of embezzling over a billion Maldivian Rufiyaa via the nation’s main tourism promotion body in the largest corruption scandal in the history of the Maldives.

Adding that the embezzled funds are likely stashed overseas, he said, “Considering all these, there is a very high chance that Adheeb may abscond if allowed to leave the Maldives.”

Noting that several international entities have been calling on the Maldives to allow Adheeb to go abroad, AG Anil retorted, “What country gives the chance to abscond to someone that made an attempt on the life of the nation’s leader? What country gives the chance for someone to escape with millions of dollars they embezzled?”

However, the AG concurred that the Constitution accords Adheeb the right to proper healthcare and medical treatments. Seconding the AG’s sentiments, Minister of Tourism Moosa Zameer declared that the government has facilitated the opportunity to bring in doctors from abroad to treat Adheeb. He also highlighted the great progress of the health sector of the Maldives, saying that plenty of treatments are also now available locally.

Meanwhile, Adheeb’s lawyers argue that their client does not have any thought of absconding.

Backing the argument, an attorney of Adheeb’s legal team, Moosa Siraj, pointed out that Adheeb had returned to the Maldives in October 2015 from an official trip to China amidst the accusations that he orchestrated the blast aboard the presidential speedboat a month ago. Lawyer Siraj declared that despite the knowledge that he could be arrested upon his return and his being in China being a perfect chance to escape, Adheeb chose to return to face the accusations against him.

Stating that one’s status does not deprive them of basic rights, Siraj said that the government too recognises Adheeb’s poor health and there is no reason to deny him permission to seek treatment abroad. He added that the government may choose to send him to a nation they see fit and trustworthy.

Meanwhile, Adheeb’s family has filed the issue at the United Nations and Human Rights Commission of the Maldives (HRCM). Amnesty International has also called on the government of the Maldives to allow proper healthcare for Adheeb in accordance with the Constitution of the Maldives and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

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