The Maldivian Government insisted Friday that there is enough evidence to hold a suspected sniper brought in from Sri Lanka for an assassination plot against the president.
Three people were arrested last month over the plot to assassinate the president that involved a sniper brought into Maldives from Sri Lanka.
Confirming the arrest of the Sri Lankan sniper for the first time, police said in a statement in November that the 27-year-old man was arrested on October 24. He has been remanded by the Criminal Court.
Some Sri Lankan media outlets have, however, reported that the man was an importer of Maldives dry fish. Sri Lanka’s media identified the man as 24-year-old Lahiru Madhushanka.
Legal affairs minister at the President’s Office Azima Shakoor told reporters in Sri Lankan capital Colombo on Friday that the Sri Lankan national under custody is given access to lawyers and has regular consular visits as well.
“There is enough evidence to keep him in custody and he is being regularly presented to court to extend his detention as well,” she said.
Reports of the Sri Lankan sniper’s arrest came a day after Maldivian security forces confiscated assault rifles and hand guns in what has been the biggest weapons bust in the country’s history. The weapons had been seized from Hibilhadhoo island in Baa Atoll being developed as a resort.
The army had confirmed that two assault rifles found in the weapons bust belonged to the state armoury.
The items showcased during a press conference included several hand guns, a T56 assault rifle and a MP5 sub-machine gun. In addition, a large quantity of bomb making material were also displayed at the press briefing.
Maldives declared a month-long state of emergency in November after the discovery of a bomb near the presidential palace. The state of emergency was, however, later cut short after a week.
Maldives military had confirmed that the suspected device found in a vehicle parked near the presidential residence of Muliaage in capital Male was an improvised explosive device which had been subsequently been diffused.
The discovery of the IED came just over a month after an explosion aboard the presidential speedboat carrying President Abdulla Yameen Abdul Gayoom now confirmed as an attempt to kill the president.
President Yameen was unhurt but his spouse and two others were hurt in the explosion.
The primary suspect in the blast appears to be former Vice President Ahmed Adheeb Abdul Ghafoor who was arrested on October 24 as soon as he arrived from an official trip to China.
He is accused of high treason, a charge he denies.
The Sri Lankan sniper’s arrest affected the relations between the Maldives and Sri Lanka, which accused the Maldives of using historically warm bilateral ties to crackdown on Maldivian political and social media activists. ( Haveeru Online)