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PNC demands government apology for harbouring coup conspirator

Mariyam Malsa
27 June 2019, MVT 12:05
A recent picture of Abdulla Luthfee, the mastermind behind the November 3, 1998, coup. PHOTO: MIHAARU FILES.
Mariyam Malsa
27 June 2019, MVT 12:05

Opposition party People's National Congress (PNC), on Wednesday, demanded that the government issue a public apology for secretly harbouring Abdulla Luthfee at the Maldivian embassy in Sri Lanka.

Luthfee, an orchestrater of 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.

According to Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Maldives Police Service, Luthfee's extradition was delayed due to difficulties in completing necessary international procedures. The issues involved Interpol's red notice on Luthfee, his attempts to seek protection from the United Nations (UN) and his extended period of residence in Sri Lanka without a valid visa.

However, PNC's statement claimed that the Foreign Ministry only made the aforementioned assertions when information of Luthfee's presence at the Embassy was leaked and therefore, held no weight.

The opposition party went on to claim that reliable sources informed that Luthfee had turned himself in three months ago. It also stated that Parliament Speaker Nasheed and leading members of Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) would have received information regarding Luthfee when they travelled to Sri Lanka recently.

PNC declared that it was apparent that the government had harboured Luthfee and deliberately deceived the Maldivian people regarding the case.

According to the party, the state's actions amounted to injustice against the citizens who died in the 1988 coup as well as their families.

PNC stated that the government should have made a public announcement immediately after Luthfee turned himself in at the embassy. The party also said that it was questionable which regulation, law or international agreement stipulated that Luthfee be kept at the embassy.

Furthermore, PNC requested the Foreign Ministry to explain in detail which procedures needed to be completed considering that Interpol had issued a red notice on Luthfee who had absconded a 25-year prison sentence in 2010 after travelling to Sri Lanka for medical treatment,

The opposition party also noted that bilateral agreements between Maldives and Sri Lanka including those concerning the exchange of criminals, would not be affected by Maldives leaving the Commonwealth. The statement also revealed that such exchanges were conducted after the current government came to power.

Luthfee turned himself in when Sri Lankan authorities heightened security measures following the series of bomb blasts all over the country on April 21. 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.

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