Minister of Home Affairs Imran Abdulla, on Monday, disclosed in a parliament session that the delay in extraditing Abdulla Luthfee was due to the lack of a document by the Sri Lankan Defence Ministry.
Abdulla Luthfee, who orchestrated the coup of November 3, 1988, which resulted in the death of 19 Maldivians, handed himself over to the Maldivian embassy in Sri Lanka on May 1.
While government authorities were sitting on this information for two months, former Home Minister Umar Naseer exposed the situation, pressuring the government to address the issue.
Answering Nolhivaram MP Mohamed Nasheed Abdulla's question whether the government is attempting to extradite Luthfee, Imran stated that the documents needed from the Sri Lankan Attorney General's office for the extradition have now been acquired.
He guaranteed that Luthfee will be brought back, following the acquisition of necessary documents from the Sri Lankan Defence Ministry.
Luthfee turned himself in at the embassy after being in hiding for nine years since he fled from the authorities when he was sent abroad on January 16, 2010, for medical treatment. The medical board and relevant authorities had approved Luthfee's departure.
Luthfee was granted a period of three months in India. However, he disappeared and the Maldivian government attempted to locate Luthfee's whereabouts on various occasions.
According to Imran, there are paperwork proving the government's efforts.
Moreover, Imran explained that the Maldivian government made arrangements to extradite Luthfee within 48 hours when he first surrendered at the embassy.
There was a delay in this process as to not hinder the diplomatic relations between Maldives and Sri Lanka if Luthfee were extradited without clearance by Lankan authorities, especially following the unrest that followed the Easter bomb attacks.
"The incident in Lanka has many unknowns. It had to be ensured that there was no room for questioning any relations Luthfee may have with the attacks", Imran said.
In Monday's parliament session, Home Minister Imran stated that Luthfee was not extradited in former President Abdulla Yameen Abdul Gayoom's administration because former Minister of Home Affairs Umar Naseer refused to authorise Luthfee's extradition.
Disclosing that the Maldivian government received information about Luthfee's whereabouts in 2014, Imran noted that extradition process had reached the final stages.
"However, we received information that it was not done because the then-Home Minister did not grant his approval", Imran claimed.
According to Imran, Umar told Maldives Police Service at the time that bringing Luthfee back to Maldives was not important.
Umar denied Imran's allegations in a Facebook post, claiming that he was the one minister who tried the hardest to locate and extradite Luthfee.
Imran further stated that despite the shortcomings of the former government, President Ibrahim Mohamed Solih's administration will extradite Luthfee, as soon as they received the documents from Lanka's Defence Minister.
"We really want to bring Luthfee back and implement his sentence. This government will not hesitate to do that", Imran said.
Luthfee was the leader behind the attempt to unlawfully overthrow the government by taking over the National Security Service (NSS) with the help of armed militants from Sri Lanka's People's Liberation Organisation of Tamil Eelam (PLOTE). The attack resulted in the death of 11 Maldivian civilians and eight military personnel.
Luthfee and his partner, Sagar Ahmed Nasir, were initially sentenced to capital punishment for their crimes. However, then-President Maumoon Abdul Gayoom reduced their sentences to life imprisonment which, as per the Maldivian constitution, consists of 25 years.
Luthfee absconded during the presidency of Mohamed Nasheed upon being allowed to go abroad for medical treatment. He had been reportedly living in hiding in Sri Lanka ever since.
Meanwhile, Sagar Ahmed Nasir was freed after he completed his jail sentence.