Commissioner of Police (CP) Mohamed Hameed announced Tuesday evening that attempts were underway to extradite Abdulla Luthfee within 48 hours.
Luthfee, who orchestrated the coup d'état of November 3, 1988, which resulted in the death of 11 civilians and eight military personnel, reported to the Maldivian embassy on May 1 after residing illegally in Sri Lanka for a period of eight years.
CP Hameed told local media Mihaaru that Police assumed responsibility over Luthfee at once, and have been working closely with relevant authorities to return him to Maldives.
However, CP stated that the extradition process was delayed due to various complications, such as Luthfee owning documents seeking a certain amount of protection from the United Nations (UN).
Luthfee residing in Sri Lanka illegally for such a long period of time also posed difficulties for a swift extraction, Commissioner Hameed said.
Noting that Interpol had issued a red notice on Luthfee who was serving a sentence when he absconded in 2010 after traveling to Sri Lanka for medical treatment, CP Hameed stated that legal procedures had to be completed before bringing Luthfee back home.
Hameed further stated that the lack of an extradition agreement between Maldives and Sri Lanka impeded the process as well.
Since Luthfee reported to the embassy while Sri Lanka was under a state of emergency following the Easter terror attacks of April 21, CP noted that it took time to make arrangements with the authorities.
Ministry of Foreign Affairs released an official statement on Wednesday, following the Police Commissioner's declarations, confirming that the delay was caused by the same reasons listed by the police.
According to the statement, Foreign Ministry shared the information with relevant authorities immediately after Luthfee turned himself in and requested to be brought under state custody.
Police was tasked with completing the necessary legal procedures and extraditing Luthfee since day one, the statement read.
CP Hameed affirmed that Police had now acquired permits from Lanka's Attorney General's Office and Ministry of Foreign Affairs and arrangements were being set in place for Luthfee's extraction.
"Efforts to bring Luthfee back have been underway since we took him under custody. As soon as we get clearance, Police will bring him and hand him over to Maldives Correctional Service", the commissioner said.
"We are attempting to bring him in the next 48 hours".
Hameed stated that a special police team was in Lanka for Luthfee's extradition process.
Luthfee turned himself in when Sri Lankan authorities heightened security measures following the series of bomb blasts all over the country. Foreigners living in Lanka were requested to register at the closest police station and illegal immigrants were deported, leaving Luthfee with no other choice but to seek protection at the embassy.
The November 3 mastermind was initially sentenced to capital punishment for his crimes. However, the then-President Maumoon Abdul Gayoom reduced his sentence to life imprisonment.
According to the Maldivian constitution, life imprisonment consists of 25 years. If Luthfee had not fled, his sentence would have ended in 2014.
Sagar Ahmed Nasir, Luthfee's partner during the November 3 attacks, is now free after completing his jail sentence of 25 years.