Tourism minister Ahmed Adeeb has expressed sadness at reports fellow party member Ahmed Nazim had attempted to link him with the disappearance of Minivan News journalist Ahmed Rilwan.
“I am saddened that former Majlis Deputy Speaker asked different journalists to write, implicating me in the case to divert focus, as the case was being investigated by police,” said the deputy leader of the Progressive Party of Maldives (PPM) yesterday.
Adeeb spoke to the press in response to a damning report from the auditor general, implicating him in a US$6 million corruption scandal.
Rumours of Nazim’s attempts to have Adeeb linked with the disappearance of Rilwan on August 8 first appeared in an independent report commissioned by the Maldivian Democracy Network in September.
The report – which mentioned multiple potential lines of inquiry – suggested that radicalised gangs were the most likely groups to have abducted Rilwan from outside his home in Hulhumalé.
The 28-year-old’s disappearance 85 days ago remains a mystery, with the journalists’ family last week submitting an official complaint to the Police Integrity Commission regarding the authorities’ lack of progress in the search.
Blaming political opponents for the release of the audit report this week, Adeeb repeated suggestions that his enemies were attempting to smear him after his failure to support them in the selection for leadership of the Majlis in May.
“But I didn’t believe the threats because the auditor general is someone I respected. I believed up until the report was released yesterday that he would not compromised. Nazim threatened me very recently as well before he left for Malaysia.”
Nazim – who was not selected as a PPM candidate for Majlis deputy speaker – left the country last week just as the criminal court ordered that his passport be held in relation to unspecified charges.
Adeeb also heads the cabinet’s Economic Council as well as the newly formed special economic zone investment board, having risen from relative obscurity prior to 2012 to become arguably the second most powerful man in the government behind President Abdulla Yameen.
He told journalists that Dhiggaru MP Nazim had suggested to the media that Rilwan was abducted in relation to his work on the Dhaalu Maagau case – also featured in the recent audit report.