High Court grants Humam a month to appoint lawyer in death penalty appeal

The High Court has granted a man convicted of killing MP Dr Afrashim Ali one month to appoint a lawyer.

Hussein Humam had requested the period at the first hearing of the appeal at the High Court this morning.

The Criminal Court sentenced Human to death on January 16, finding him guilty of intentional murder, stating Humam had assaulted the ruling Progressive Party of the Maldives (PPM) MP with a sharp object and intentionally killed him.

Dr Afrasheem was found brutally murdered in the stairwell of his apartment building on October 1, 2012.

Humam gave contradictory statements in court regarding his involvement in the crime. Although he initially confessed to the crime, he later retracted his statement claiming the statement had been given under duress.

He appealed the death sentence in May, just before the 90 day appeal period for lower court rulings was about to expire.

Death penalty

Shortly after the Criminal Court sentenced Humam to death, Minister of Home Affairs Umar Naseer announced plans to implement the death penalty ending an unofficial sixty year moratorium on the practice.

Speaking on a show on state broadcaster TVM on Sunday night, Naseer said the incumbent government will not “shy away” from implementing the death penalty despite pressure from foreign countries and human rights organizations.

“We are not one to shy away from implementing the death penalty by showing various excuses. Nothing will stop us from implementing the death penalty as planned,” Naseer said.

He said that while he respected the views of European countries which are calling on the government to continue with the moratorium on the death penalty, he believed that the decision lies solely with the Maldivian government.

“While European countries are speaking against the death penalty based on their set of principles, the US, Indonesia, China are not, even though they are by far the more populated countries. Each country has a separate viewpoint on it, and I understand and respect that. However, I believe there is a need for the death penalty to be implemented here, and come what may, we will implement it”.

The decision to reintroduce implementation of the death penalty  has given rise to public debate.

While Islamic groups have said that capital punishment is a crucial aspect of the Islamic Shari’ah, Mauhadini Sanawi and Azhar University graduate Scholar Al Usthaz Abdul Mueed Hassan previously told Minivan News that Islam is a religion of forgiveness first, and called on the state to abolish the death penalty.

“In taking qisaas, it is prescribed that it must be done in the manner that the crime was committed. Like the metaphor an eye for an eye. Taken in the exact same manner. How can this be done in cases of murder? How can the life of the murderer be taken in the same manner as that of the murdered? This is prescribed so as to discourage the taking of qisaas,” Mueed said at the time.

The government has previously announced that lethal injection is the state’s preferred method of implementing capital punishment.


Afrasheem murder suspect Shan acquitted at Criminal Court

Ali Shan has been acquitted of murdering MP Dr Afrasheem Ali in October 2012 at the conclusion of his trial at the Criminal Court yesterday.

In the not guilty verdict (Dhivehi) delivered yesterday, Judge Abdulla Didi stated that the evidence submitted by state prosecutors was not sufficient to prove that Shan – from Henveiru Hikost in Malé – was involved in the murder along with Hussain Human, who was found guilty and sentenced to death by the Criminal Court in January.

The Progressive Party of Maldives MP for Raa Ungoofaru was found brutally murdered near the staircase of his house on the night of October 1, 2012.

While the prosecution’s key witness did not see Shan attacking the moderate religious scholar, Judge Didi noted that witnesses for the defence testified that Shan was at the Jalapeno restaurant at the time the murder took place.

At a hearing last month, four witnesses testified that Shan was at the restaurant until 1:15am.

However, there were slight discrepancies in the testimonies. While one witness – Ali Hashim ‘Smith’ – reportedly claimed that he joined Shan and four others for a coffee at 11:30pm, a second witness suggested Hashim arrived around 10:30pm.

While the fourth witness said he left Jalapeno with Hashim around 1:00m and went to the Labamba restaurant, Hashim had said he left around 12:30am and went to the Laban restaurant in front of the Hulhumalé ferry terminal.

At the final hearing on August 21, a fifth witness, Ubaidhulla Saeed, told the court that he saw Shan at the restaurant around 9:30pm on the night the former MP was murdered.

After having coffee with friends, Ubaidhulla said he and Shan went for a motorbike ride and was at the Dolphin Cafe when he heard of the murder. Shan was with him at the time, he said.

While a witness for the prosecution testified to have seen Shan holding a blood-stained knife over Dr Afrasheem’s body by the staircase of the deceased’s residence, Judge Didi said the minor did not see Shan committing the murder.

At a hearing in February, state prosecutors presented evidence against the accused, including two witness testimonies, the confession of Humam, and a recording of a phone call.

Judge Didi, however, ruled that Humam’s confession was inadmissible as a Supreme Court precedent has established that a convict could not provide testimony either in favour or against an accomplices to a crime.

Moreover, neither the phone call recording nor the medico-legal report of Dr Afrasheem’s fatal injuries were sufficient to prove guilt, Judge Didi said.

As murder was a hudud offence in Islam, Judge Didi reportedly said such crimes must be proven beyond any doubt in Islamic Shariah.

Judge Didi also cited an authentic hadith from Prophet Mohamed (pbuh) in the reasoning for the verdict.

According to reporters present at the trial, Shan’s family members inside the courtroom burst into tears after he was pronounced not guilty.

Shan has been kept in pre-trial detention for almost two years.

Five others – a juvenile identified as ‘Nangi,’ Maldives National Defence Force officer Azleef Rauf, Abdulla ‘Jaa’ Javid (son-in-law of opposition Maldivian Democratic Party MP ‘Reeko’ Moosa Manik), Jaa’s brother Jana and another person identified only as ‘Spy’ – were also implicated in Human’s confession, which he later retracted and claimed had been extracted by police through coercion.

In December 2012, then-Commissioner of Police Abdulla Riyaz described the murder as a “preplanned politically motivated act of terrorism carried out by politicians”.

The current Jumhooree Party MP had also said both Humam and Shan belonged to a local gang who often carried out criminal acts for politicians and businessmen. Riyaz claimed the gang was paid MVR4 million (US$259,403) for the assassination.


Witnesses seek to provide alibi for Afrasheem murder suspect

Four witnesses have testified that Ali Shan was at the Jalapeno restaurant on the night that MP Dr Afrasheem Ali was murdered, reports local media.

Shan is accused of killing the moderate religious scholar on October 1, 2012 together with Hussain Human, who was found guilty and sentenced to death by the Criminal Court in January.

At a hearing yesterday, four witnesses for the defence testified that Shan was at the restaurant until 1:15am.

However, there were slight discrepancies in the testimonies. While one witness – Ali Hashim ‘Smith’ – reportedly claimed he joined Shan and four others for a coffee at 11:30pm, a second witness suggested Hashim arrived around 10:30pm.

While the fourth witness said he left Jalapeno with Hashim around 1:00m and went to the Labamba restaurant, Hashim had said he left around 12:30am and went to the Laban restaurant in front of the Hulhumalé ferry terminal.

As a fifth witness failed to appear yesterday, Judge Abdulla Didi said his testimony would be heard at the next trial date.

Judge Didi also refused a request by Shan’s attorney to release the defendant from police custody and said he would announce a date for hearing closing statements at the next hearing.

At a hearing in February, state prosecutors presented evidence against the accused, including two witness testimonies, the confession of Humam, and a recording of a phone call.


MDP condemns death threats received by Majlis members

The Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) have condemned death threats received by six MDP MPs last night (August 2), and called on  the Progressive Party of the Maldives (PPM) to desist in sheltering radical suspects.

“[T]he PPM government continues to shelter radical suspects and is yet to name or arrest a single suspect accused of having issued such threats in previous cases lodged by the MDP,” read an MDP statement.

The MDP confirmed that MPs Mariya Didi, Rozaina Adam, Eva Abdulla, Ali Azim, Parliamentary Group Leader Ibrahim Mohamed Solih and former Speaker Abdulla Shahid all received death threats.

Two threats were sent to each MP via text message. The first message read, “[We] will kill you if you behave inappropriately.” The party suggested that the police had the technical capability to identify unlisted numbers.

The second read, “It is not a sin to kill those who challenge Allah’s words and call for freedom of religion. Afrasheem Ali was an example.”

In June the party requested that police investigate a series of threats made via Twitter against its members, including former President Mohamed Nasheed.

The MDP statement went on to note the recent spate of murders taking place around the capital, as the number of violent attacks reported rises to nine.

“The Maldivian Democratic Party notes with concern that the present climate of fear in Male’ and several islands began to escalate following Home Minister Umar Naseer’s constitutional powers as the Minister in charge of Police being reduced on 24 July 2014 by his former political rival President Yaameen Abdul Gayoom.”

Writing on her Twitter account, Eva Abdulla challenged the Maldives Police Service to investigate the matter. “You have the means to investigate, if you have the will,” Eva stated.

“[The] police have the means to look this up, if they have the will to do so. If they do not (as they did not with any of the complaints I lodged past two years) well at least I will know this is govt-approved. [sic]” Eva added on social media.

Police have confirmed with Minivan News that they are investigating the matter, but declined to give any more information on the details of the case.

Dr Afrasheem Ali’s murder in October 2012 was the most high profile attack on a member of parliament in the country’s history.

In the second death threat sent to MPs yesterday, the perpetrators referred to the attack on the former Ungoofaaru constituency MP and Islamic scholar.

The ensuing investigation found the crime to have been premeditated and politically motivated. On January 16 2014, the Criminal Court sentenced the prime suspect in the murder, Hussain Humam, to death.

Meanwhile, former MDP MP Alhan Fahmy was unable to walk for months after he was stabbed in the back in February.

The safety and rights of MPs have previously been a concern of organisations such as the Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU), who in November 2013 called for an emergency visit to the Maldives.

The organisation’s request for an urgent visit was prompted by the growing list of cases – 24 in total – involving Maldivian MPs filed with the IPU’s Committee on the Human Rights of Parliamentarians.


Humam’s confession used against Shan in Dr Afrasheem’s murder trial

The Criminal Court has today heard the prosecution’s evidence against H. Hikost Ali Shan in the case of MP Dr Afrasheem Ali’s murder.

Evidence was presented separately in support of four separate assertions: Shan’s involvement in conspiring to murder, his going to to Dr Afrasheem’s house with the intent of murder, attacking the victim with a sharp object, and Dr Afrasheem’s subsequent death from the attack.

The confession from the Hussein Human Ahmed – who was recently sentenced to death for Afrasheem’s murder – was used to back all four assertions. Humam later stated that the confession was obtained by the  Maldives Police Service through coercive means.

Other evidence presented include two confidential witnesses, audio recording and the script of a phone call, and Dr Afrasheem’s medical report and death certificate.

The defense also presented evidence at today’s hearing. Sun Online reported that the evidence was presented to prove that Shan was in ‘Jalapeno Restaurant’ from 9:00pm on October 1 2012 until 1:00am.

CNMreported that Shan’s Defense lawyer Abdulla Haseen had requested anonymity for defense witnesses stating that, due to the nature of the case, revealing their identities could endanger their lives. The request was granted by the judge.

According to ‘Haveeru‘, a request for leniency regarding Shan’s detention was rejected, with the judge stating that more importance would be given to finishing the case as soon as possible, and that previous scheduled hearings were canceled upon requests from the prosecutor general. The court has been extending Shan’s detention since late 2012.

The judge has  said that a hearing is likely to be scheduled within the next week, and that the case will be concluded as soon as statements of the witnesses are collected.

Dr Afrasheem Ali, a moderate Islamic scholar who was at the time representing Ungoofaaru constituency in the People’s Majlis, was found brutally murdered at his apartment building on the night of October 1 2012.

Shan, along with Humam, was charged with with the murder. In a hearing on May 6 2013, Humam denied the charge before changing his statement and confessing to the murder. He also implicated several others investigated for the murder. After nine days, however, Humam retracted the confession saying that it had been obtained by police through coercive means.

Other suspects mentioned in Humam’s confessional statement – a key piece of evidence on both his own and Shan’s cases – included a juvenile  identified as ‘Nangi, a Maldives National Defence Force officer Azleef Rauf, Abdulla ‘Jaa’ Javid (son-in-law of opposition Maldivian Democratic Party Chairperson ‘Reeko’ Moosa Manik), Jaa’s brother Jana, and another person identified only as ‘Spy’.

In December 2012, then Commissioner of Police Abdulla Riyaz described the murder as a “‘preplanned politically motivated act of terrorism carried out by politicians”.

He also said that both Humam and Shan belonged to a local gang who often carry out criminal acts for politicians and businessmen. Riyaz said that MVR14million was paid for the murder.

Politicians have similarly blamed the recent stabbing of MP Alhan Fahmy on criminal gangs with political paymasters.

Shan, who was arrested at the time of Riyaz’s press briefing, was only charged with the crime on  April 21 2013, where he requested to appoint a defense attorney for himself.

A hearing was held again on 5 May 2013, during which Shan’s defense refused to respond to charges until the findings of police investigations and statements of witnesses were presented. Agreeing to grant the request, the judge said that it was the prosecutor’s wish that it should not be presented.

Since May 2013 several scheduled hearings have been cancelled upon request from the prosecution, including one in July and December last year.


Humam sentenced to death for murder of Dr Afrasheem

The Criminal Court has today sentenced the prime suspect in the murder of Dr Afrasheem Ali , Hussain Humam Ahmed to death.

The verdict said it was proven beyond doubt that Humam assaulted Dr Afrasheem with a sharp object and intentionally killed him. Humam was found guilty for the crime of intentional murder and sentenced to death as a penalty for the crime.

Dr Afrasheem –  then MP for Ungoofaaru Constituency and a moderate Islamic Scholar – was found brutally murdered at the his apartment building on the night of October 1 2012.

Maldives Police Service launched an investigation immediately and found it to have been a politically motivated and premeditated murder.

Suspicion had been cast upon various political groups including Maldivian Democratic Party, religious conservatives and even President Abdulla Yameen –  though current Home Minister Umar Naseer recently discarded his earlier comments as “political rhetoric”.

Humam’s Trial

Humam was arrested within hours and was accused of murder on 20 January 2013. On 6 May 2013 Humam denied the charge of murdering Afrasheem, while admitting to many other crimes including several stabbings.

Contradicting his previous statement on 22 May 2013 Human confessed to the murder and said that he wished to apologise to the victim’s family and repent. At the hearing he requested that the judge not to sentence him to death.

On that day Humam gave a detailed account of the planning and execution of the crime, involving Ali Shan of Male’s Henveiru Hikost (also charged with murder), and the juvenile suspect in the case – identified only as ‘Nangi,.

Also said to have been involved were Maldives National Defence Force (MNDF) officer Azleef Rauf,  and Abdulla ‘Jaa’ Javid (son-in-law of opposition Maldivian Democratic Party Chairperson ‘Reeko’ Moosa Manik) and his brother Jana and another person identified only as ‘Spy’.

According to Humam, Jana promised to give him MVR 4 million for carrying out the murder, and Azleef provided him with an identity card and money to buy SIM cards and mobile phones. He said that ‘Spy’ worked with Azleef in organising the crime and ‘Nangi’ provided Shan and himself with a machete, a bayonet knife, jeans, t-shirts and gloves.

Humam said he attacked Afrasheem with the machete when he entered the apartment building that night and when he fell on the ground Shan attacked him with the bayonet knife.

At that hearing state prosecutors told the court that Dr Afrasheem’s DNA was found on the jeans Humam was wearing on the night of the murder.

Again, on 1 June 2013 Humam changed his narration by retracting the earlier confession saying that it was obtained by police through coercive means.

His defence lawyers said the Police had assured Humam that he would not be sentenced to death should he confess to the crime and that if he didn’t, they would charge him with other crimes of which he was accused.

Humam’s Father Ahmed Khaleel also alleged his son was psychologically traumatized and under coercion by the police when he confessed. He wrote to Criminal Court Chief Judge Abdulla Mohamed and the Human Rights Commission of the Maldives requesting them to “ensure [my] son is granted a fair trial devoid of coercion and undue influence.”

In the letter sent to the Criminal Court, Khaleel said that he observed during the trial that Humam displayed signs of mental instability, including staring upwards, placing his handcuffs against his mouth, and laughing, and requested an assessment Humam’s mental stability.  The same request by his lawyer and was rejected by the judge.

In his letter, Khaleel alleged that police officers intimidated Humam even at the hearing and called upon the court to review video footage of the hearing to confirm his claims.

On 19 August 2013, two police officers testified in court stating that they stopped and searched Humam’s person on the night of the murder, with one officer saying that he saw a text message sent from Humam’s mobile phone talking about failing to receive promised money.

They said Humam was behaving unusually, by failing to resist arrest, behaving scared, sweating, shaking and was under the influence of an illegal substance. The officer said Humam was arrested and taken to Atholhu Vehi police custodial. On 11 July 2013 Police forensic experts testified that Dr Afrasheem’s DNA was found on Humam’s jeans.

During the trial period, Humam was sentenced to seven years imprisonment in a drugs related case (28 January 2013 ) and to three years imprisonment for cannabis use (7 July 2013). He was also charged with assaulting a police officer on 18 March 2013.

Implementing Death Penalty

Islamic Shariah as interpreted in the Maldives allows families of murder victims to seek death penalty as Qisas (retaliation), however it is a requirement for all ‘warith’ (heirs in Shariah law) to agree upon it. Dr Afrasheem’s heirs have approved of executing Humam.

While many people have been sentenced to death over the years, the Maldives maintains a longstanding unofficial moratorium on the death penalty. Death sentences are currently commuted to life imprisonment under the power vested to the president in Clemency Act.

The parliament has accepted an amendment to the act in order to force the president to implement such sentences. This presidential authority has been challenged in the high court as well, arguing that it is in violation of Article 10 of the constitution which states no law contrary to a tenet of Islam shall be enacted.

No ruler has implemented the death penalty since 1953 when Hakim Didi was executed by firing squad under President Mohamed Ameen Didi’s authority.

President Abdulla Yameen has expressed his support to implement death penalty while his Vice President Dr Mohamed Jameel Ahmed – who was President Dr. Mohamed Waheed’s Home Minister – has said he would “not hesitate” in implementing death penalty and pushed for parliament to decide on an implementation procedure.

In order to facilitate implementation of death penalty, Dr Waheed’s government proposed a bill to the parliament with lethal injection as the preferred method – however, it was rejected.  Religious conservatives have demanded implementation of the death penalty and proposed beheading as the preferred method.


Heirs of slain MP want execution if court finds suspect guilty

Criminal Court Spokesperson Ahmed Mohamed Manik has today confirmed that all heirs of late MP Dr Afrasheem Ali wished to execute Hussain Humam of Henveiru Hicost, if the court found him guilty of murdering Dr Afrasheem.

Progressive Party of Maldives (PPM) MP Dr Afrasheem Ali was stabbed to death on the night of October 1, 2012, on the staircase of his home.

Manik said that the court took the statements from Dr Arasheem’s heirs today.

He said that today’s scheduled hearing, during which Humam was to deliver his last words and closing statement before the judge concludes the case but, was cancelled as his defence lawyer Hassan Hisan is ill.

”Its the third hearing that had to be cancelled because his lawyer is ill,” he said. ”Today the court asked Humam to inform his lawyer that there will be another hearing scheduled next week and it will be last opportunity for Humam to present his closing statement and say his last words.”

Manik said the court will proceed with the case without his last words even if his defence lawyer is unable to attend to the next hearing.

After taking the closing statement and last words the court will deliver a verdict unless there is anything else to clarify.

State prosecutors have previously accused Humam of going to the residence of Dr Afrasheem and murdering him with a machete and a bayonet knife.

Humam had initially denied charges against him. He later confessed to the crime at a hearing held in May, according to a statement read in the court by prosecutors .

The statement was said to have been given by Humam at one of the initial hearings. It claimed that son-in-law of ‘Reeko’ Moosa Manik, Abdulla ‘Jaa’ Javid, had offered to pay him MVR 4million for the murder of MP Afrasheem. At a subsequent hearing in June, however, Humam retracted his confessionclaiming that he had been coerced by police.

Commissioner of Police Abdulla Riyaz previously alleged that the murder of Dr Afrasheem was a well planned murder worth MVR 4million (US$260,000).


MDP MP Ali Waheed calls to exhume body of murdered MP Afrasheem, conduct post-mortem

Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) Deputy Parliament Group Leader MP Ali Waheed has called on the state to exhume the body of murdered scholar and Progressive Party of Maldives (PPM) MP Dr Afrasheem Ali in order to conduct a post mortem.

Referring to the MP’s murder last year as the “most serious crime ever committed in the Maldives”, Waheed said that various allegations and rumours were being spread to create confusion and suspicion in society about the case.

He said that these allegations had prominently focused on the involvement of certain senior politicians in the crime, including the MDP’s own Chairperson MP ‘Reeko’ Moosa Manik and PPM presidential candidate, MP Abdullah Yameen.

Waheed stated that it was therefore of utmost importance to conduct a post mortem in order to bring an end to this speculation and allegations over the case, while ascertaining the facts around Dr Afrasheem’s murder.

Prior to Waheed’s comments, MDP Chairperson and MP ‘Reeko’ Moosa Manik also spoke of the importance of clarifying facts regarding Afrasheem’s murder.

Echoing comments previously raised by former President Mohamed Nasheed at a party rally, Moosa spoke of the need to verify if there was any truth in information that individuals suspected of involvement in the murder had fled the country on the day of the attack.

He further questioned why street surveillance cameras installed by the police had not been in operation on the night of the murder.

MDP MP Mohamed Riyaz also spoke of the allegations that Sudanese nationals may have had involvement in the crime, while stressing the importance of verifying the truth behind claims that Afrasheem had been summoned to the Ministry of Islamic Affairs shortly before his murder.

PPM MP Ahmed Nihan was not responding to calls today from Minivan News today. Meanwhile, Dr Abdulla Mausoom, Parliamentary Group Leader of the government-aligned Dhivehi Rayyithunge Party (DRP), said he was unavailable for comment at time of press.


Maldives Police Services announced in October 2012 that the FBI were extending assistance in the investigation of the MPs murder.

Commissioner of Police Abdulla Riyaz later stated in a press conference held in December 2012 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.”

The main murder suspect identified by the police investigation into the attack, Hussain Humam, initially denied charges. He later confessed to the crime at a hearing held in May.

At the hearing, state prosecutors read out a statement which was said to have been given by Humam at one of the initial hearings. The statement claimed that son-in-law of ‘Reeko’ Moosa Manik, Abdulla ‘Jaa’ Javid, had offered to pay him MVR 4 million for the murder of MP Afrasheem.

In the last hearing held in early June, Humam once again retracted his confession, claiming that he had been coerced into confession by police.

Humam’s father has also written to the Criminal Court and the Human Rights Commission of the Maldives alleging police of conducting psychological abuse against the suspect and exerting coercion to confess to a crime he did not commit.

Religious scholar and MP Dr. Afrasheem Ali was found brutally murdered in the early hours of October 2, 2012 and was buried at a state funeral after Asr prayers on the same day.


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.