Leader behind the 1988 coup attack on Maldives, Abdulla Luthufee has confessed to fleeing custody while abroad for medical purposes.
Assisted by armed foreign mercenaries, Luthufee led the attacks on Maldives on 3rd November 1988 that killed 19 Maldivians. Charged and convicted for treason, Luthufee received the death penalty for his crimes. However, then President Maumoon Abdul Gayyoom lightened his sentence to life imprisonment.
Luthufee was allowed to travel to neighboring Sri Lanka on 16th January 2010 for medical purposes during former president Mohamed Nasheed's administration. However, he went into hiding during the trip and had been residing in Sri Lanka for the past nine years as a fugitive.
Following the Easter Sunday attacks on Sri Lanka, Luthufee voluntarily presented himself to the Maldivian Embassy in Sri Lanka on 1st May 2019 for safety purposes, after which was residing at the embassy until his extradition from Sri Lanka. Authorities did not disclose his presence at the embassy until after rumors that the embassy was harboring Luthufee made its rounds on social media. Upon his return in the Maldives, the state charged him under Article 537 of the Criminal Procedure Act for fleeing from a detention centre.
In a hearing held at the Criminal Court on Wednesday, Luthufee said he left the country with the permission of the authorities, and thus cannot be charged for fleeing from a detention centre. However, he agreed that he fled custody after traveling abroad with the permission granted by authorities. He asked the court to expedite the case, and implored the court for a minimum sentence.
As Luthufee has pleaded guilty to fleeing custody, the court will pass a judgement on the matter within the next five days.