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 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, the former Defence Minister Mohamed Nazim and the head of a leading political party, Sheikh Imran Abdulla, are the others to get lengthy prison terms. Nasheed has since been granted asylum in Britain.
The cases have been criticised for a lack of due process.
Adeeb still faces charges of trying to assassinate Gayoom, after an explosion hit the presidential speedboat last year.
Gayoom made his trusted protégé Adeeb vice president last July after sacking his running mate in the 2013 election.
However, Adeeb was arrested only days after the September blast on Gayoom’s speedboat. The president’s wife, an aide and a bodyguard were injured in the explosion.
Later, authorities charged Adeeb 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 that they found no evidence of a bomb explosion.
Human rights groups have criticised Gayoom for jailing opponents and potential challengers in order to tighten his grip on power.
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 multi-party 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 was later given asylum.