Former vice president Ahmed Adheeb Abdul Ghafoor’s rushed trial and subsequent conviction on terrorism charges were ordered by president Abdulla Yameen Abdul Gayoom, the newly formed opposition coalition alleged Monday.
Adheeb was handed a 10 year prison sentence on Monday after the Criminal Court found him guilty of possessing a hand gun.
Maldives United Opposition in a statement said the sudden verdict was delievered after chief criminal judge Abdul Baree Yoosuf took charge of the trial on orders of the president.
Adheeb was found guilty after two witnesses testified that they had seen the ex-VP with the handgun during the mass opposition rally on May day last year.
The MUO formed by the key opposition figures currently living in exile in the United Kingdom said the trial further gave weight to the mounting concerns over the judiciairy’s independence in the Maldives.
Verdicts in a second count of terrorism, two counts of graft and a count of abuse of authority against the former vice president are still pending.
The court has now wrapped up hearings on the remaining count of terrorism, relating to the September 28 explosion on President Yameen’s speedboat, and a corruption charge over the embezzlement of USD5million from the country’s main tourism promotion company.
Adheeb is also part of the opposition coalition which is being headed by his predecessor Dr Mohamed Jameel Ahmed.
Five rival opposition groups had announced a united front to remove President Yameen from office, urging supporters to bridge differences to restore democracy.
Former President Mohamed Nasheed, who was recently granted political asylum in the United Kingdom, said: “I understand how difficult it is to take this step, to come together. But we have decided this understanding and knowing the gravity of the issues faced by our people.”
He told reporters that he hoped to see Jameel serve in a transitional government before the next presidential elections in 2018.
Nasheed’s jailing on a terror charge last year for the arbitrary arrest and subsequent detention of a sitting judge while he was president was a key trigger of the current political crisis. He was allowed to leave the country in an internationally brokered deal in January.
Jameel had meanwhile fled to the UK last July days before he was impeached in a controversial vote which was alleged to have been orchestrated by Adheeb. At the time, the Adhaalath Party leader Sheikh Imran Abdulla and former Defence Minister Mohamed Nazim were already in jail.