Ex-VP Adeeb says he was not under duress, wishes to aid in recovery of embezzled funds

Former Maldivian Vice President Ahmed Adeeb Abdul Gafoor at an appeal hearing at the High Court on September 15, 2020.

Former Maldivian Vice President Ahmed Adeeb Abdul Gafoor told the High Court on Tuesday that he was not under duress when he agreed to a plea deal with the state prosecution to cooperate in the investigation into the MMPRC graft case, and that he will disclose all information he is privy to aid in the recovery of the embezzled funds.

Adeeb had been pressed with seven charges based on the investigation into the MMPRC embezzlement case conducted by Maldives Police Service, Anti-Corruption Commission, and Corruption and Asset Recovery Commission; charges of money laundering, embezzlement, graft and abuse of power.

The charges were dismissed by the Criminal Court in July, after Adeeb told the court he signed the plea deal in exchange for medical furlough.

Appeal hearings over the dismissal of the charges began at the High Court this Tuesday.

Speaking at the hearing, Adeeb said that he will provide his full cooperation to the state prosecution, and said he wishes to proceed with the appeal hearings without the assistance of a lawyer.

Adeeb said he does not wish to counter the arguments presented by the state in the case, and wishes for the appeal proceedings to be completed as soon as possible, but that he, however, wished to clarify certain facts.

He said that the hearings at the Criminal Court were held remotely due to the coronavirus pandemic, and that his experience with the remote hearings, due to poor internet connection, was “bitter”.

Adeeb said that he missed some of what was said during the remote hearings due to poor internet connection, and was unable to consult with his lawyer confidentially during the hearings because they had attended the hearings from two separate locations.

“The state was answering on the spot. It [the live stream] was very slow, and I now believe that, because of the multiple interruptions [to the internet connection], I misinterpreted what was said on the state’s side very negatively,” he said.

Adeeb said that he mistakenly thought the state claimed he hadn’t previously faced difficulties in access to medical care, and that it had been he himself who had drafted and finalized the plea deal with the state.

“But I later came to know that wasn’t how the conversations went, when I and my lawyer went through the court documents and lawyer statements. So my experience with the online [hearings] was very bitter,” he said.

He said that he regretted what happened, and apologized to the public prosecutors and the Prosecutor General Hussain Shameem himself.

“That I was tortured by ACP Riyaz and former Prosecutor General Aishath Biasham or forced to sign it under duress. I never said that.  Like I said, there were certain misunderstandings,” he said.

Adeeb said that it had been he who had volunteered to speak to the investigators regarding what he knew of the MMPRC case, and that he continued to provide his cooperation to investigators.

He also said that he was confidence in the capability and sincerity of the current administration to investigate and close the case, and that he believes the embezzled funds should be returned to the state and the people.

High Court is scheduled to announce its decision during the next hearing in the case.