Hearing in Ibthihaal murder trial cancelled

A hearing in the trial of Afiya Mohamed Manik over the murder of her three-year-old son was cancelled today due to the absence of a defence lawyer.

At the last hearing of the trial on June 15, the judge offered Afiya the opportunity to appoint a lawyer at the state’s expense and explained the process of seeking a public defender.

The criminal court told local media that today’s hearing was cancelled because the accused did not have legal representation. The attorney general’s office is responsible for appointing public defenders to defendants who lack the financial means.

In addition to murder, Afiya was also charged with disobedience to order over child abuse and neglect with reference to the law on protecting children’s rights.

At the previous hearing, she pleaded guilty to the latter charge, but also confessed to the murder.

She told the court that she repeatedly abused her son, Mohamed Ibthihaal, and said she felt anger towards the boy because he was born out of wedlock.

Ibthihaal died “by my hands,” Afiya said. She confessed to strangling the child and kicking his chest three times.

Judge Muhthaz Fahmy reportedly stopped Afiya and reminded her that she was to answer the disobedience to order charge.

If she is found guilty of murder, Afiya faces a sentence of life imprisonment. She had reportedly confessed to murder during the police interrogation and her remand hearings.

Ibthihaal’s body was found with signs of severe abuse on January 28 in the worst case of child abuse in recent years. The horrific murder on the island of Rakeedhoo in Vaavu atoll shocked the nation while reports that the authorities had been aware of Ibthihaal’s abuse sparked public outrage.

Afiya was arrested for murder two days later and has since been held in pre-trial detention.