Father of main suspect in Afrasheem murder case accuses police of coercion

The father of Hussain Humam, the main suspect in the murder of MP and religious scholar Dr Afrasheem Ali, has alleged his son was psychologically traumatised and under coercion by the police when he confessed to the crime.

The suspect has since retracted the confession he gave at a hearing held June 1.

In two separate letters dated May 26 that were sent to Criminal Court Chief Judge Abdulla Mohamed and the Human Rights Commission of the Maldives (HRCM), Humam’s father Ahmed Khaleel asks for assistance from authorities to “ensure [my] son is granted a fair trial devoid of coercion and undue influence.”

Referring to the May 22 hearing of the case, the letter sent to the Criminal Court and obtained by Minivan News reads: “I observed that when my son, Hussain Humam, was brought to the hearing, he was under psychological fear. I observed that he was in a very bad condition, was physically weak and his eyes were reddened. And during the trial, my son, Hussain Humam Ahmed, displayed signs of mental instability, including staring upwards, placing his handcuffs against his mouth, and laughing. Owing to these circumstances, I believe it is of utmost importance to assess Humam’s mental status prior to scheduling another hearing.”

During the previous hearing Judge Abdulla Didi denied a request by Humam’s lawyer that his client be psychologically tested, stating the lawyer had not mentioned any psychological disorder during a prior hearing to extend Humam’s detention.

Alleged police intimidation during trial

Khaleel also alleged in the letter that during the May 22 hearing, police acted “outside of the norms of a court hearing: attempting to psychologically intimidate Humam, and acting in many ways to influence what Humam had to say.”

Khaleel alleges that police  forced Humam into initially rejecting his right to have a defence lawyer, stating, “When the Judge enquired if he wished to have a lawyer, Humam quietly said ‘I do want a lawyer too’, at which point the police officer on his right, and the two officers on his left – Ali Ismail and Shamin – gave angry looks towards Humam and gestured with their eyes in a way that seemed to indicate that Humam was not permitted to say so. I believe that this forced my son to give up and lose this constitutional right.”

“The police also continued to converse with each other while the hearing was ongoing, discussing different aspects of the case itself, and speaking in such a way that it seemed Humam was being threatened. They also exchanged written documents with the state prosecutor outside of court proceedings,” his father alleged.

“Despite the judge unfailingly working to carry out a trial based on fairness and equality where the rights of both concerned parties are protected, with reference to the actions of police in and out of the courtroom, I do not accept that the hearing in question was a fair and just hearing,” Khaleel wrote.

Khaleel called on the court to review video footage of the hearing to confirm his claims, and pleaded for his son to be granted a fair trial and the constitutional rights entitled him.

CP Riyaz and other senior police officials accused of coercion

Khaleel alleged in his letter that in every instance he had visited Humam, his son had repeatedly complained that the police were trying to force him to confess to the MP’s murder.

“I have also observed that the police have phrased their words in such a manner that forces [Humam] to confess. For instance, police brought Humam to Male’ as a hearing had been scheduled for May 16. However, your court cancelled the hearing in the end, and instead of taking Humam back to the Villingili Police Station (where he is being held in detention), he was kept in police headquarters in Male’,” Khaleel wrote.

“I have learnt that while he was being kept in Male’, several police officers of various senior ranks questioned him, outside the processes of investigation, including Commissioner of Police Abdulla Riyaz. They all pushed him to confess, assuring him that he would be spared the death sentence if he did so, and threatening that if he did not, they would ensure that he was sentenced to death. Police further said that if he chose to confess, he would be spared from both the death sentences and charges previously raised against him, and tried to confuse and delude him,” he alleged.

“I have also learned that police, even in other instances, have tried to threaten and coerce Humam into a confession, and have asked him to make use of the opportunity presented.’”

“The confession was an exaggerated mix-up of disjointed statements”

“My wife – Humam’s mother – and I met Humam on May 23 and my wife asked him to tell the truth for her sake and the nine months and ten days she carried him inside her, and Humam cried out, ‘No, mother, I did not kill Afrasheem’. He said the same when I repeatedly questioned him about it,” Khaleel stated.

“Therefore, Humam having stated in front of both of us in the court hearing, in such a way that will be heard by the whole of the country, that he had killed Afrasheem, he then told us that he had, in fact, not committed the murder, and this gives rise to many questions in my mind about how this could have happened,” he continued.

“I am now certain that the police and various political leaders, in a bid to hide the truth behind this, and to conceal the real murderer, have made police question Humam and get details about his life and past. I am also certain that the statement that was submitted to the court as one provided by Humam, is in fact an exaggerated account mixing together responses Humam gave to police about unrelated matters, adding and taking out details, and changing and editing it to align with what the police want it to state,” Khaleel alleged.

“When police are exerting undue influence and interfering with a case under the jurisdiction of your court; forcing Hussain Humam to give up a constitutional right, concealing the actual culprits behind the murder for different political gains, telling Humam various things in a bid to pin this on innocent people, and senior police officers are pushing their long arms into this matter outside the boundaries of the trial, I would like to bring this matter to your attention,” he wrote in conclusion of his letter to the Criminal Court Chief Judge.

Speaking to Minivan News today, Khaleel confirmed that officials of the Criminal Court had met with him and advised him on the best way to proceed.

“They told me that some of the matters I had pointed out can only be raised through a lawyer. They were helpful and listened to my concerns,” Khaleel said.

Criminal Court Media Official Ahmed Mohamed Manik was not responding to calls at the time of press.

Police deny coercion allegations

“It is an outright lie. The hearing proceeded in the presence of the judge. Media was also present in the room. Police did not at all intimidate or threaten Humam in any way, nor did police attempt to influence the courts in any form,” stated a police media official, requesting to remain unnamed.

“We can say with certainty that at no time, during or after the investigation stages, did senior officials talk to Humam to pressure him into a certain action or to influence the trial,” the police spokesperson said.

“Confused how HRCM defines human rights”

Khaleel also wrote to HRCM, expressing concern that his son was being subjected to psychological trauma, threats and intimidation while being held in police custody.

He further alleged that Humam was being coerced into confessing to a crime he did not commit, requesting the commission to look into the matter, and to grant an appointment in which he could provide further details of the allegations.

Khaleel further claimed that police had initially prevented Humam from seeking legal representation, thereby stripping him of the constitutional right stipulated in Article 16 of the Constitution of Maldives.

“I have not had any response from HRCM. I have been endlessly trying to get them to do something about this. I have called them lots of times, and they either say they’ll call back or that there’s no one relevant to talk to. Once, I was told there was no point in meeting the HRCM President just yet, that maybe I should meet someone else they recommend. My point is, how will I be able to meet anyone unless they grant me an appointment, at the least?” Khaleel told Minivan News.

“If they call themselves the Human Rights Commission, shouldn’t they be looking into matters like this where a citizen is being deprived of his rights? I am no longer sure how this commission defines human rights, or just how much they are able to protect such rights,” he said.

HRCM Media Official Sajidha Majdi confirmed that the commission had received the letter, but declined from commenting on the matter, stating it was against the commission’s policy to speak about an ongoing case.


15 thoughts on “Father of main suspect in Afrasheem murder case accuses police of coercion”

  1. Anyone facing the prospect of the death penalty will show signs of "psychological trauma". If we look at cases of criminals being tried for murder in the world's largest democracy where the death penalty is practiced, i.e, the United States, we can clearly see the various tactics that both criminals and their lawyers use to escape death.

    One frequently used tactic is to try to show the Courts that the accused is mentally unfit. I don't believe Humam has any grounds to appeal regarding his mental status. Whether he is guilty or innocent is a different matter, but for all intents and purposes, he appears to be in a state of perfect mental health as anyone in Maldivian society can be.

    A person of reduced mental health would not have had the ability to describe at length and in great detail, events that took place during the night of murder in the way he did. Even if the police "coerced" him and fed him this "tale", he committed it to his memory so well, that he described the story with great clarity and at great length in front the judge. Cross examination by lawyers did not change his story or stance. That doesn't sound like the acts of someone with a mental problem!

    In short, Khaleel is trying to save his son from the hangman or the injection man, whichever route the Maldivian authorities decide to enact the death penalty.

  2. @kst kst: India is the world's largest democracy, not USA. In India death penalty is carried out by hanging.

  3. @kst kst:

    You obviously have no idea what you're talking about. If you look at the number of innocent people that are put on death row in the states you'd realize why they use these 'tactics' to escape death.

    Also insanity is a valid defence used in developed countries all around the world. You seem to have a very limited view on what constitutes a reduced mental capacity (i.e. that he seemed to remember the story in great detail and clarity).

    There is a reason why admissions aren't accepted readily as evidence in other countries. Its because of its unreliability.

    Do some research will you?

  4. Did the police actually exchange documents with the State Prosecutor inside the court room? If that is the case, what a farce!

  5. Indis is worlds largest democracy just because they have over billion of people. But their democracy is just a name when compared with the kind democracy in US.

    India does not have real democratic values and they treat people like animals and their cast system is one of the worst in the world.

    They treat their maids as "slaves" and child labour and child trade is at the highest.

    If this guy Khaleel, Humam father, he had given his children good education and if the guys had looked after his children well, then his children would not had to face these issues at all.

    It is not only Humam, and Humam brother is also in jail for similar case .

  6. @Ahmed on Fri, 7th Jun 2013 9:29 AM

    "India is the world’s largest democracy, not USA. In India death penalty is carried out by hanging."

    I am well aware of India being "large" as in numbers. But as Kuribee has noted, that doesn't qualify India as the "largest democracy". Not by a wide margin.

  7. @J on Fri, 7th Jun 2013 2:21 PM

    "You obviously have no idea what you’re talking about. If you look at the number of innocent people that are put on death row in the states you’d realize why they use these ‘tactics’ to escape death."

    I am not here to get into personal attacks with you or anyone else. I am here to voice my opinion and engage in debate. Let's try to do that. Rather than get sidetracked on the number of "innocent" on death row, let's focus on the current case.

    Imagine that your father was murdered in the way the late Dr Afrasheem was hacked to death. Would you not want the Police to provide irrefutable proof as to who the killer was? And if that proof is of unquestionable standing, and the accused then turns around, very late in the proceedings to suggest that he may have "mental" problems, what would be your reaction?

    By the way, I am not suggesting that the Police have (or do not have) irrefutable proof regarding this character Humam. What occurs to me is that, as soon as the case moves to a stage where sentencing is imminent, they guy (and his family) seems to be trying to find an escape route of any sort. Did this never occurr to them earlier in the proceedings? Why not? Were they so confident that he would never get to the stage in the Courts where he is now?

    How long has he had mental issues? Are there any previous medical records the family can provide to support their claims? Modern clinical methods are very effective in diagnosing mental health issues and these are not conditions that just appear out of the blue.

    I maintain that what Humam is trying to do is try to escape the death penalty which he presumably thinks is what he will get. The Courts perhaps may allow a criminal psychologist to look at him. Criminal psychologists are well trained to spot the sort of mental gymnastics that a person accused of murder goes through.

  8. what a police, trying to hide the truth psychologically traumatised him, is it true.

  9. The Maldivians are being paraded around on a very leash, by the filthy Arabians.

    The questions that they are desperately wanting to ask, yet, if they do articulate any of their inner feelings, they will be vilified as disbelievers.

    Yet, all around them, they see no difference between those who eat pork and those who don't, as far as divine wand is spun.

    No wonder Mordis people are on the edge of sanity.

  10. kst kst:

    What fantasy world version of the Maldives are you living in where people have a history of being diagnosed by mental health professionals? Whether he did it or not, he could very well be possibly mentally unstable; especially considering his background.

    The fact of the matter is that psychologically is a complex science and we can't dismiss his instability just because it would be convenient defence against the death penalty.

    Besides the death penalty has been shown by multiple studies to be highly ineffective as a forms of reducing crime. Punishments for crimes should not stem from the attitude of the government carrying out vengeance on behalf of relatives of the deceased etc either.

    Killing Humam will only serve to further aggravate the tensions between people such as him who have had a life of less fortunate circumstance and everyone else. We cannot eliminate gang culture and violence by continuing to refuse their status as human beings and victims of circumstance. There would be very few kids who would "choose" a life of crime. Instead of victimising them we need to get to the root causes of that cycle.

    Furthermore it is clear that Humam has no motivations for the murder of Afrasheem. What does Humam gain from it?

    Even if Humam did murder Afrasheem, the people that paid him to do it are as (f not more) responsible as he is; especially if Humam is mentally unstable. If Humam was not involved and is given the death sentence, the people behind it all would be responsible for two murders.

    Instead of Humam, who was pretty much used as a tool, I think the investigation needs to focus more on the people who were behind the planning of it.

    Wouldn't they pose a much greater threat to society than this man?

  11. If he is the murderer and he was offered money to kill someone, then money was his motivation. he is just as dangerous if not more than the people who offered payment.
    hard to believe someone who has admitted to so many crimes not even counting this one, was psychologically traumatised by questioning. he has admitted and retracted admission while still under police custody all the while, so its hard to believe he is afraid of police. more like he's being advised by someone else on the outside after his confession.

  12. @kakuni on Sat, 8th Jun 2013 11:20 AM

    "What fantasy world version of the Maldives are you living in where people have a history of being diagnosed by mental health professionals? "

    When did I say that? I quote what I said:

    "Modern clinical methods are very effective in diagnosing mental health issues and these are not conditions that just appear out of the blue."

    I did not make any reference to a Maldives where people have a history of being diagnosed by mental health professionals. I asserted that mental health issues CAN be very effectively diagnosed. Humam's father is alleging that his son has just developed "mental instability", by seeing him staring into space or to the ceiling during Court hearings. Does Humam's father have qualifications in mental science?

    Regarding your other assertions, the point is that there is no universal solution to reducing violent crime. If you look at societies where violent crime is low, you'll see a few patterns. These include affluence, social mobility and cohesion and a well educated population.

    One can bring any amount of statistics to show support for capital punishment. On the other hand, one can also bring out statistics to show support for other forms of punishment. What works for one society doesn't necessarily work for others. Capital punishment has never been tried here on any scale and so we don't really know what the impact will be. You cannot extrapolate from other societies and reach conclusions as to the outcome here in the Maldives. I 've said enough said on this topic.

  13. this whole thing is fishy.
    even if it wasnt, i cant trust a police
    investigation right now. cant trust the police force right now. or the judiciary.
    i have reason to believe the police force, pg and judiciary are very likely to collaborate in framing and killing people for political reasons. cannot trust the system at all.

    HRCM is the same. they should be occassional and selective human rights commission of maldives. OSHRCM. such a shame. traitors.

  14. when police can't get the evidence or find criminals, they are called incompetent. when they do get them and the person even admits to it in court, they are still accused of being untrustworthy and framing and committing the crime.i think this is what the psychologist should examine first.


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