New Delhi: Former Maldivian vice president Ahmed Adeeb, who had sought political asylum from India, has been sent back to his home country, the police said on Saturday.
For two days, Adeeb had stayed on Virgo 9, the Singapore-owned tug boat anchored at Tuticorin port. According to a senior Thoothukudi district police officer, Adeeb had not been allowed to disembark. He also stated that they were awaiting “instructions from Delhi”.
“The Maldivian leader left Tuticorin coast by midnight,” a police official told PTI.
Coast Guard personnel oversaw the vessel leaving Indian waters.
Indian official sources denied that Adeeb had either been technically “deported” or that his asylum application had been rejected. “He was not per se on Indian territory, so there is no question of him being deported or hm applying for asylum,” they said.
Amidst speculation on Friday that Adeeb would soon be handed over to the Maldivian police, his international lawyers had stated that India was obliged under international law to respect the principle of non-refoulement.
On Thursday, a ministry of external affairs spokesperson had said that Adeeb had been denied entry into India after arriving without valid documents at a port, which is not an entry point designated for foreigners. Adeeb has sought political asylum in India, according to his legal representatives.
As per Toby Cadman of Guernica37, his international legal representatives, Adeeb had not been either detained or arrested but was “questioned on his request”.
Meanwhile, his lawyers had claimed on Friday that Maldivian law enforcement officials “were expected to arrive in Chennai imminently”.
“We would remind the Governments of both India and Maldives that there is an established legal process that must be followed and anything short of that will constitute rendition which is unlawful in both States,” said a press release issued by London-based legal group, Guernica37.
They also asserted that India was under obligation to respect the principle of non-refoulement under international law, which deems it “unlawful to return a person to the place where their life or freedom would be threatened”.
The group had added that India should not tarnish its “proud” history of “protecting those fleeing to safety”.
“To return the former vice-president to the Republic of Maldives, where there is credible evidence that he will be mistreated, is not only unlawful, but, sets a very dangerous precedent for any other individual that seeks to flee to safety,” the statement noted.
After he was arrested and sentenced on charges of attempting to kill President Abdulla Yameen, Abeed had served two years in prison. The defeat of Yameen in the elections last year led to his being transferred to house arrest.
His 33-year-old sentence was overturned in May by Supreme Court over charges that the trial was tainted.
The former vice president had fled Maldives ahead of his questioning on July 31 over one of Maldives’ biggest corruption scandal, embezzlement of at least $90 million from Maldives Marketing and Public Relations Corporation (MMPRC).
The legal team claimed that Adeeb was forced to sign a document “by which he would provide implicate members of the previous administration in criminal conduct and that the provision of necessary medical care was withheld until he signed the Agreement”.
According to Maldivian media reports, the tug-boat, Virgo-9 had been anchored off from Hulhumale island in Maldives on Saturday (July 27). The next destination of the boat was Tuticorin on morning of August 1, when his presence was detected by immigration authorities after his name was not found on the list of nine crew members.