President Abdulla Yameen Abdul Gayoom has declared that his earlier statement of Ahmed Rilwan being dead was not a confirmation of Rilwan's passing, and that there still was hope he would be found alive.
Speaking at Madaveli, Gaafu Dhaalu Atoll during his ongoing official visit to the southern atoll, President Yameen had said earlier on Tuesday, "There is no doubt that Rilwan, of Maldives Independent, is now dead; it is a great tragedy", while responding to a statement released by his jailed former deputy, Ahmed Adheeb.
However, later the same day on his visit to Faresmaathodaa, President Yameen claimed that the media had misconstrued his words at Madaveli.
The president stated that his remarks at Madaveli were to refute Adheeb's statement, in which the former vice president had said that he had endeavoured to ensure justice for Rilwan, who went missing during the former's tenure as Minister of Tourism in the current administration. Adheeb went on to claim that Rilwan's case had been investigated on a Cabinet-level until President Yameen put a stop to it.
Speaking at Faresmaathoda, Yameen asserted that his remarks about Rilwan were to disprove Adheeb's statement, and not to confirm Rilwan's death.
"My only objective was [to prove] that Adheeb's claims were baseless," he said in defence of his address at Madaveli.
Reiterating that there was little truth to Adheeb's claims that the Cabinet had been involved in investigating Rilwan's disappearance, Yameen said that Rilwan might still be found alive.
Ahmed Rilwan, a journalist at Maldives Independent, has been missing since August 2014. In connection to his disappearance, the state had accused Aalif Rauf of capital Male and Mohamed Nooradheen of Gaafu Dhaalu Atoll Vaadhoo, of kidnapping Rilwan and charged them with terrorism. However, the Criminal Court acquitted the two suspects last Thursday.
Former Vice President Ahmed Adheeb has been widely accused of being involved in Rilwan's disappearance. However, he had again denied the allegations against him in his latest statement.