The vice president of Maldives will be charged with terrorism for his role in plotting to kill the country’s president. On Thursday, he was impeached by Parliament.
Ahmed Adeeb is the second vice president of Maldives to be impeached within a three-month period. He was arrested for allegedly planning to kill Maldives President Yameen Abdul Gayoom in a speedboat-related explosion on September 28th.
Adeeb has denied any involvement in the blast.
Out of the 85-member Parliament, the motion to impeach received 61 votes in favor, zero opposed and one abstention – by the main opposition body, the Maldivian Democratic Party.
Maldives Home Minister Umar Naseer told the Associated Press that, “We have passed the impeachment with an overwhelming majority. We thought 57 votes would do the job but we got 61.” Naseer further added that, “Now the vice president is out of office and we will charge him under the recent terrorism law.”
The Maldivian government recently passed strict terrorism legislation focused on dealing with Maldivian citizens found sympathizing with ISIS. If found guilty of violating this law, Adeeb could face up to 25 years in prison.
The president was not injured in the explosion but has since declared a national state of emergency, claiming the blast and subsequent arms discovery pose a threat to national security.
Earlier this week, the Maldivian military discovered a homemade bomb in a vehicle parked close to the president’s residence. Specialists deactivated the bomb before it could explode. Just days earlier, the military said a cache of arms was discovered on an island undergoing development as a tourist resort.
The declaration of the state of emergency contains a clause that reduces the number of days provided to a president or vice president to respond to an impeachment motion (from 14 to seven).
Hussain Shameem, Adeeb’s attorney, said that Thursday’s vote was unconstitutional and he plans to appeal the impeachment to the Supreme Court.
Shameem argues that the number of days the vice president has to respond to an impeachment motion cannot be changed – even by the declaration of an emergency. He claims that it can only be changed via a constitutional amendment requiring a two-thirds vote in Parliament.
He said Adeeb was not informed of the change and was prepared to answer charges in 14 days as opposed to seven days.
Adeeb is only thirty-three and was once a trusted protege of Gayoom. He became Maldives’ vice president this summer when his predecessor was impeached after he fell out of Gayoom’s good graces.
However, after the explosion on Gayoom’s boat, Adeeb was immediately suspected and was arrested at the local airport upon his return from a visit to China.
The government has termed the explosion an attempt at assassinating Gayoom. The United States FBI investigated the explosion at the request of the Maldives government, and said it did not find any evidence that the explosion was caused by a bomb.