Former President Maumoon Abdul Gayoom has this week said there could be no doubt that the murder of Progressive Party of Maldives (PPM) MP Dr Afrasheem Ali was a politically motivated attack, while calling for justice to be expedited against his alleged attackers.
No individual has yet been convicted of the killing of Afrasheem, who was found dead on the staircase of his home in Male’ on October 1, 2012.
Humam had initially denied charges against him in court.
He later confessed to the crime at a hearing held in May, according to a statement read out by prosecutors in the court. State prosecutors read out the statement, which was said to have been given by Humam at one of the initial hearings. The suspect retracted his confession a month later, claiming that he had been coerced by police at the time.
Humam’s father has also written to the Criminal Court and the Human Rights Commission of the Maldives accusing police of conducting psychological abuse against the suspect, and exerting coercion to make him confess to a crime he did not commit.
One year later
Speaking Wednesday (October 2) at a rally to mark a year since Dr Afrasheem’s death, Gayoom was quoted in local newspaper Haveeru as saying that society remained in a state of fear as a result of the MP’s “politically motivated” killing.
“This was a clear message to our nation. It means that anyone who dares to speak up will suffer the same fate,” said the country’s one-time autocratic ruler, who was in power for 30 years until the Maldives’ first multi-party democratic elections in 2008.
Police have meanwhile confirmed this week that cases had been filed with the Prosecutor General’s Office (PGO) against Azleef Rauf, Shaahin Mohamed, Adam Salaah and Abdulla ‘Jaa’ Javid – son-in-law of opposition Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) Chair ‘Reeko’ Moosa Manik in connection to the murder.
Despite not a single trial related to the murder having yet been concluded, PPM MP Ahmed Nihan confirmed that former President Gayoom had claimed there was a political motive to Afrasheem’s attack.
However, Nihan said Gayoom had not identified any one party or culprit in particular for the crime.
“[Gayoom] said the murder of Afrasheem was connected to politics and that such attacks should be eliminated and solved or they will begin to be copied by the public,” he said.
Nihan said that like Gayoom, he believed that since police had begun their investigations into the attack, they had uncovered enough evidence to suggest the murder had been carried out for political reasons.
He claimed that the PPM had purposefully avoided “finger pointing” of any particular party, but criticised politicians within the opposition MDP for making statements in an attempt to undermine the credibility of the police investigation into the case.
Nihan said that the country’s MPs had a responsibility to minimise doubt among the public concerning the conduct of the Maldives Police Service (MPS) in investigating the murder, adding it was important society have faith in law enforcement officials to solve the case.
The Maldives Police Services (MPS) announced in October 2012 that the FBI were extending assistance in the investigation of the MPs murder.
By December, Commissioner of Police Abdulla Riyaz stated during a press conference that the murder of Afrasheem had been carried out with a political motive, and that the culprits were to be paid MVR 4 million (US$ 260,000).
Riyaz had at the time dismissed claims that the murder was linked to religious fundamentalists, stating “no evidence has been gathered which suggests this murder had a religious motive.”
Soon after the murder police arrested two MDP activists – Mariyam Naifa and Ali Hashim ‘Smith’ – in connection with the attack. Both suspects were later released without charge.
The MDP later accused the government of attempting to frame the party with “politically-motivated arrests” of its members. In November 2012, former President Mohamed Nasheed accused the government of negligence in its efforts to bring the perpetrators to justice.