The chief suspect alleged to have murder parliament member and prominent religious scholar Dr Afrasheem Ali, Hussain Humam, has retracted his previous confession to the crime, claiming it was obtained by police through coercive means.
Humam – who has been linked with smuggling drugs, gang violence and several other high profile crimes – confessed to the killing on May 22, answering “yes” in court when state prosecutors produced a statement detailing the murder and asked him if it was his.
According to that statement, Humam claimed the idea of killing Dr Afrasheem was given to him by Maldives National Defence Force (MNDF) officer Azleef Rauf, whom he met at a baibalaa tournament held in 2012.
The pair later met in person again at a coffee, according to the statement, along with two other individuals Humam identified as Abdulla ‘Jaa’ Javid (son-in-law of opposition Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) Chairperson ‘Reeko’ Moosa Manik) and his brother ‘Jana’.
According to the prosecutor’s statement, Humam was promised a sum of MVR 4 million (US$260,000) for murdering the religious scholar. The statement said Humam later asked Azleef Rauf why Afrasheem was to be murdered, and was told that one of the reasons were Afrasheem’s remarks during the day former President Mohamed Nasheed controversially resigned.
State prosecutors accused Humam, along with Ali Shan – who is also facing the same charges – and a minor identified as ‘Nangi’, of going to the residence of Dr Afrasheem and murdering him with a machete and a bayonet knife.
Humam’s retraction of his statement during yesterday’s court hearing is the second time he has denied committing the murder.
Court denies request for psychological testing
During the hearings, Humam’s defence lawyer requested the judge allow Humam’s sanity and mental stability be tested, claiming that Humam’s father had told him that the suspect had a mental disorder. He stressed that Humam himself had told Haseen that he wanted to consult a psychologist.
Haseen also took an oath swearing that he had never asked Humam to deny the charges levied against him, in response to ongoing public rumour that Haseen was behind Humam’s new denial.
Responding to the request made by Haseen, Judge Abdulla Didi denied the request for psychological testing, stating that Humam’s lawyer had not mentioned such a psychological disorder during the hearings held to extend Humam’s detention.
The judge further claimed Humam had pleaded with him to continue the trial behind closed doors.
Humam’s defence lawyer was allowed to enter the court only after Humam stood up without the permission of the judge and requested that his lawyer be present , and that he wished to proceed with his lawyer.
Speaking in the defence of the accused, Haseen contended that Humam had told him that the confession that he had given during the previous hearing was a result of threats by police.
His lawyer said Humam was warned that should he fail to comply with the deal offered by the police, they would charge him with other crimes of which he was accused.
The police also assured Humam that he would not be sentenced to death should he confess to the crime, Haseen alleged.
Witness’s narrative of the incident
During Saturday’s hearing the state presented two witnesses, included a minor alleged to have gone with Humam to Afrasheem’s residence, and the doctor who inspected the body.
The minor, who gave evidence over a distorted audio link and responded to questions from Humam’s defense lawyer Abdulla Haseen, said he knew Humam even before the events that led to the murder of the MP.
According to the minor, Humam had called him and told him that there was a ‘mission’. On the day the murder was carried out, Humam called him and requested him to meet up at Usfasgandu, while informing him that he had received briefings of what they needed to do to complete the said mission.
The witness told the court that he had gone to Usfasgandu, where he met with Humam and Ali Shan. After meeting up, the three then headed to ‘pad-park’ near Usfasgandu, where he claimed he saw Shan wielding a knife.
The witness told the court that they left the park and headed to ‘Kuda Kudhinge Bageecha’ – a children’s park located in front of Dr Afrasheem’s house. He claimed that Humam entered the residence and seconds later, a man carrying a stack of books entered into the same house, followed by Ali Shaan.
After a short while, Shaan called him. When he had entered the premises, he told the court he saw the man with the books brutally injured, lying on the floor.
The witness claimed that Humam was wielding a bloody knife and holding the hand of the injured man, which was also covered in blood. He also claimed that Ali Shan too had a knife.
Responding to the questions posed by Humam’s defence lawyer, the witness claimed he had given evidence to the court on different occasions during November 2012.
When Haseen questioned whether the witness had been involved with previous criminal activities carried out by Humam, he answered stating that he had not, but said he had knowledge of what Humam had been doing.
As soon as Haseen began questioning the witness about his own criminal records, Judge Abdulla Didi stopped him stating that the questions did not have any relevance to the case at hand.
The doctor who had inspected the body of the deceased Afrasheem told the court through the assistance of a translator that there was no sign of life in Afrasheem’s body when he was brought to the hospital.
Explaining his observations, the doctor said that Afrasheem’s body had suffered severe injuries of the kind which could lead to death.
State prosecutors argued that Humam had confessed to the crime during the last hearing, as well as during a hearing held to determine the extension of his custody.
Therefore, the prosecution contested that it was a legitimate confession according to the constitution, that that therefore they felt that the court could issue a verdict based on the confession.
The judge concluded the hearing without announcing the date for a next hearing.