Raajje TV Journalist Ibrahim ‘Asward’ Waheed has condemned delays in prosecuting two men suspected of critically injuring him in a near-fatal attack in February 2013.
The Prosecutor General’s Office in May 2013 pressed charges against Ahmed Vishan, 22 years, and Hassan Raihan, 19 years, for assault under Article 128 of the Penal Code.
If found guilty, the two face a jail term or banishment between six months and five years, or a fine between MVR100 and MVR5000.
“Each day of delay is one more day without justice,” Asward told Minivan News today.
The Criminal Court held a hearing this morning in which a second anonymous witness said the suspects “looked very similar” to the two men they had seen fleeing the crime scene. However, the witness repeatedly said they could not be absolutely certain if the suspects were indeed the attackers.
Asward has blamed the witnesses uncertainty on the long trial process.
“Delays affect memory, making it difficult for witnesses to identify suspects. It also allows the attackers to tamper with evidence,” he said.
“It’s quite possible that the case will conclude saying that I beat myself up. It’s been 18 months since the attack. The courts must speed up the process,” he continued.
Noting the two suspects have been kept in pretrial detention since March 2013, Asward said delays in justice also violate rights of the two suspects.
The broadcast journalist also said the Prosecutor General’s Office and the Criminal Court have repeatedly failed to inform him of dates for court hearings.
“I found out today because our court reporter saw the case on the court schedule. This failure to inform me shows they are not particularly interested in completing the case,” he said.
The witness told the Criminal Court today they saw a man holding an iron bar getting on the back of an Air Blade motorcycle on the night of the attack. The witness said they did not see the actual attack.
On December 16, the first witness had also said told the Criminal Court they are unsure of the identities of the attackers, but also said the two suspects look very similar.
The anonymous witness said they saw a man with a three-foot long iron bar knock Asward down to the ground with a blow to the face. Afterwards the attacker hit Asward a few more times while he was on the ground.
The witness said Vishan “looked very similar” to the man who had attacked Asward.
Only the man on the back of the motorbike attacked Asward, the witness said.
The Maldives Police Services have said the attack appears to be premeditated, and former Commissioner of Police Abdulla Riyaz at the time described the attack as a murder attempt.
Head of Serious and Organised Crime Department Mohamed Daud revealed that both suspects had criminal records and belonged to “groups” or gangs in the capital.
Daud claimed at the time that the attack was not thought to be politically motivated.
The attack left Asward unconscious, and he was transferred to a hospital in Sri Lanka for treatment, where he had to undergo major surgery to correct a maxillary fracture (broken jawbone). The beating has also affected Asward’s eyesight.