Maldives arrests ex-VP Adeeb as India sends him back
The tug boat Virgo 9 was stopped in waters off the Tamil Nadu coast on Thursday and a search by Indian security agencies established Ahmed Adeeb Abdul Ghafoor was travelling without valid travel documents. The vessel was denied permission to dock and Adeeb was questioned by authorities at sea.
Former Maldives vice president Ahmed Adeeb Abdul Ghafoor, who tried to illegally enter India in a tug boat this week, was handed over to Maldivian authorities by the Coast Guard early on Saturday.
The tug boat Virgo 9 was stopped in waters off the Tamil Nadu coast on Thursday and a search by Indian security agencies established Adeeb was travelling without valid travel documents. The vessel was denied permission to dock and Adeeb was questioned by authorities at sea.
Adeeb and the nine crew members of Virgo 9, including an Indian and eight Indonesians, were escorted by the Coast Guard and handed over along with the tug boat to Maldivian authorities at the international maritime boundary on Saturday, officials of Thoothukkudi Port said.
The process to send them back was initiated at 11 pm on Friday, they said.
“After completing inquiries, India denied entry to Adeeb. The Indian authorities, who left the country’s territorial waters by 12 pm on Friday, produced Adeeb to Maldivian officials in international waters by 1 am on Saturday,” an official familiar with developments said.
The former vice president was arrested by the Maldives police after the Indian authorities sent him back to the island nation. “We would like to confirm that Ahmed Adeeb Abdul Ghafoor of H Saamaraa has been arrested and is being transported to Male under our custody,” the Maldives police said.
In New Delhi, officials dismissed reports that Adeeb, who faces charges of attempted murder and corruption at home, had been deported, saying he had never entered the country.
“ The former vice president of Maldives was not permitted to enter India since he was not entering through a designated entry point and did not possess the valid documents. News reports about his deportation are incorrect,” said an official who didn’t want to be named.
The officials also said reports about Adeeb’s detention or arrest in India were false.
After learning of Adeeb’s attempt to sneak into India, Intelligence Bureau officials went out to the tug boat and found him hidden in a chamber. The external affairs ministry later confirmed he was not carrying valid travel documents and had not come in through a designated entry point.
The Maldivian Police Service said on Friday that Adeeb is facing criminal charges in his country.
“We have been in touch with the international agencies to bring back Adeeb. Also, criminal proceedings will be initiated against people who (helped) Adeeb to flee away from the country,” the Maldives Police Service statement said.
The nine crew members of the tug boat are likely to be questioned by Maldivian security agencies to find out whether they had helped Adeeb.
A Maldives court had given Adeeb a 15-year jail term for conspiring to murder former president Abdulla Yameen. However, Adeeb appealed the verdict and the court ordered a fresh trial in the case.
Adeeb also faces other criminal charges, including money laundering, misappropriation of state funds and graft charges, and the Maldives Supreme Court had imposed a travel ban on him.
Guernica 37 International Justice Chambers, a UK-based law firm representing Adeeb, said he had sought asylum in India. “Our client Ahmed Adeeb is at risk because of the politically motivated judicial proceedings in the Maldives. Therefore, he sought asylum from a safe country, India,” it said.
London-based human rights lawyer Toby Cadman on Friday issued a strong press statement, urging India to grant the former vice-president of the Maldives and his client political asylum.
“Irrespective of whether he had entered the country illegally, the Indian authorities were under an obligation to properly assess his request and provide him with protection. It is not entirely clear what happened when Mr. Adeeb arrived in India,” Cadman said.