Ahmed Murrath – the man sentenced to death by the Criminal Court after being found guilty of murdering a prominent lawyer in 2012 – has today retracted his confession given.
Newspaper Haveeru has reported that Murrath’s lawyer Abdul Hakeem Rashadh told the High Court his client’s hands were handcuffed behind his back when he made the confession and therefore it could not be considered a confession made without coercion.
Rashadh also told the court that Murrath did not willfully commit the murder because he was under the influence of illegal drugs, and also that his client had the opportunity to deny the confession as no witness had seen him committing the murder.
Haveeru reported that Murrath spoke inside the court today, telling judges that when he was in pretrial detention police had refused him access to a doctor.
Murrath acknowledged he is a drug addict and that he had experienced a pain in his body, in response to which police officers at the detention centre had given him a plastic bag containing tea.
Furthermore, it was reported that the Prosecutor General’s Office told the court there were two contradicting statements provided by Murrath, inquiring as to which one should respond.
The court told the PG’s lawyer to prepare his response at the next hearing, asking both parties to make it the final hearing.
Murrath’s girlfriend, Fathimath Hana of Rihab house in Shaviyani Goidhoo island, was also sentenced to life in the case after she confessed to “helping” her boyfriend kill Ahmed Najeeb.
The 65 year-old lawyer’s body was found stuffed inside a dustbin at Masroora house – Murrath’s residence – badly beaten with multiple stab wounds.
Speaking at the Criminal Court during the 2012 trial, Murrath’s girlfriend said that her boyfriend killed Najeeb after he became “sure” the lawyer had attempted to sexually assault her. She admitted to tying Najeeb’s hand, legs, and taped his mouth while Murrath threatened him with a knife.
“We thought he must have a lot of money as he is a lawyer,” she told the court, after declining representation from a lawyer.
Najeeb’s cash card was taken from him and the pair had used it to withdraw money.
According to Hanaa, she did not know that the victim had been killed until Murrath woke her up and told her at around 4:00am. At the time Hanaa said she was sleeping – intoxicated from drinking alcohol.
Murrath corroborated this course of events in his statement, saying that she was asleep when he killed the lawyer. He confessed to killing Najeeb out of anger and apologised to the family members.
On February 9, the cabinet advised President Abdulla Yameen that there was no legal obstruction to implementing death sentences, after the Home Minister Umar Naseer had ordered an end to the 60 year moratorium on executions.
The order closely followed the conclusion of the Dr Afrasheem Ali murder trial, in which Hussein Humam was sentenced to death. Similarly, Humam also claimed that his confession – currently being used as key evidence against his alleged accomplice – was given under duress.
Naseer stated that the order is applicable to all pending sentences, of which there are approximately 20.
In December 2012, the then-Attorney General Azima Shukoor drafted a bill outlining how the death sentence should be executed in the Maldives, with lethal injection being identified as the state’s preferred method of capital punishment.
The last person to be executed in the Maldives was Hakim Didi, who was executed by firing squad in 1953 after being found guilty of conspiracy to murder using black magic.