India deports former Maldives VP seeking political asylum

Luis Alfredo Farache, Luis Alfredo Farache Benacerraf
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Ahmed Adeeb spent three years in jail on charges of money laundering and trying to assassinate a sitting president [Sinan Hussain/AP] India has deported former Maldives vice president Ahmed Adeeb, who faces attempted murder and corruption charges at home, after he tried to enter the country on a tugboat and seek political asylum , officials said. 

Adeeb arrived at the southern port of  Tuticorin  in India‘s Tamil Nadu state on Thursday in the tugboat and was detained for attempting unauthorised entry without a passport.

Adeeb and nine members of the Virgo 9 vessel were handed over by the Indian coastguard to Maldivian security at their  maritime border in the Indian Ocean on Saturday, according to police sources. 

They were handed over to the authorities early on Saturday,” a  top police officer in the port city in Tamil Nadu told AFP news agency,  on condition of anonymity.

Adeeb was released from a Maldives jail in May after a court quashed a conviction for attempting to kill then-president Abdulla Yameen in 2015.

But he is due to face a new trial over the case and is under investigation for corruption dating back to when he was deputy to Yameen, who was defeated in an election last year.

The Maldives government had seized his passport during the investigation.

180930083126271 Maldivian police said Adeeb should have on Wednesday appeared before investigators in the case relating to the misappropriation of state funds, but failed to show up.

Adeeb boarded the India-bound Virgo 9, fearing for his life and his family, in Maldives‘s territorial waters on July 27, a source familiar with the matter told Al Jazeera .

The foreign crew tipped off the boat’s owners and authorities, the source said, because “it’s a pretty serious offence in shipping to take a stowaway”.

Raveesh Kumar, a spokesman for India‘s Ministry of External Affairs, said in a statement that Adeeb was denied entry to India “since he was not entering [the country] through a designated entry point and did not possess” valid travel documents.

Hours later, Adeeb‘s lawyer Toby Cadman said the former vice president was seeking “the protection of India and has initiated the process of claiming asylum, having been subjected to a series of politically-motivated prosecutions, and attempts to coerce him into making false statements”.

Adeeb, who became the youngest vice president of  Maldives in July 2015 at 33, suffered a spectacular fall from grace just months later following a mysterious blast on then-President Abdulla Yameen‘s speedboat.

The president, who assumed office in 2013, escaped the explosion unharmed, but his wife and two aides were injured.

Al Jazeera investigation reveals corruption links to Maldives president (3:08)

SOURCE: Al Jazeera and news agencies