A Maldives court has convicted the country’s former vice president on a terrorism charge for possession of firearms and sentenced him to 10 years in prison.
The decision by the Criminal Court on Sunday in a session closed to the media made Ahmed Adeeb the fourth high-profile politician to be jailed on a terrorism charge since President Yameen Abdul Gayoom was elected in 2013.
Former President Mohamed Nasheed, former Defense Minister Mohamed Nazim and head of a leading political party, Sheik Imran Abdulla, are the others to get lengthy prison terms. Nasheed has since been granted asylum in Britain.
The cases have been criticized for a lack of due process violations.
Adeeb still faces charges of trying to assassinate Gayoom when an explosion hit the presidential speedboat last year.
Gayoom made his trusted young protégé Adeeb his vice president last July after sacking his running mate in the 2013 election.
However, Adeeb was arrested just days after the September blast on Gayoom’s speedboat. The blast wounded the president’s wife, an aide and a bodyguard.
Later, authorities charged him with possessing firearms prohibited under the country’s terrorism law, and with corruption.
The government says the mysterious blast was an assassination attempt even though FBI investigators said they found no evidence of a bomb explosion.
Human rights groups have criticized Gayoom for jailing opponents and potential challengers in order to tighten his grip on power.
Nasheed along Gayoom’s running made Mohamed Jameel, who also lives in Britain, and supporters of Nazim and Adeeb formed a united opposition in exile last week with the aim to oust Gayoom.
Maldives has a long history of being ruled by autocratic leaders.
Gayoom’s half-brother Maumoon Abdul Gayoom ruled the country from 1978 to 2008 until he lost to Nasheed in the country’s first multiparty election. Nasheed resigned in 2012 after weeks of public protests for his role in jailing a sitting judge.
He left for Britain in January on medical leave, apparently for back surgery, and later was given asylum.