Witnesses testify against chief suspect Humam in ongoing Afrasheem murder trial

Witnesses produced by the prosecution have testified against Hussain Humam, the chief suspect in the MP Dr Afrasheem Ali murder case, with one claiming he had seen a person very similar to Humam in the ablution area of Shaheed Ali Mosque during the night the MP was murdered.

On October 2012, Dr Afrasheem Ali – the former MP for Dhuvaafaru constituency – was found brutally stabbed to death on the staircase of his residence.

According to police, the murder occurred shortly after Afrasheem arrived home following his appearance on the TVM show “Islamee Dhiriulhun” (Islamic Life), with Deputy Minister of Islamic Affairs Mohamed Qubad Aboobakuru.

After lengthy criminal investigation, the police identified Humam as the prime suspect in the case and the Prosecutor General pressed charges of murder against him.

Along with Humam, Ali Shan is facing the same charges while a minor identified as ‘Nangi’ stands accused of aiding and abetting the murder, after police claimed he had accompanied Humam and Shan to the residence of Dr Afrasheem before murdering him with a machete and a bayonet knife.

Humam initially confessed to the murder, but later withdrew his statement claiming it had been extracted under police duress.

During the hearing on Tuesday the state witness claimed as he entered the ablution area of the Shaheed Ali Mosque around 1:20 am on October 2, 2012, he saw a man washing his face and hands in the area. The witness, who was approximately three feet from the man at the time, said he believed the man was not performing ablution.

Instead, he was watching his face and hands in an extraordinary manner, the witness told the court. The witness also said that the man looked very similar to Humam, despite seeing him as having long hair at the time and the photograph of Humam shown by police having trimmed hair.

The witness said he had given the same statement previously to police during the investigation.

Another witness said he saw Humam on the same night around 12:40am walking at a frantic pace from Boduthakurufaanu Magu to the area near Tascalusa Cafe, where he crossed the road. He added that Humam appeared very nervous as he crossed the road near the Artificial Beach.

Both the witnesses identified Humam wearing a black long-sleeved T-shirt.

Another witness claimed he had seen Humam smoking a cigarette in the Children’s Park in front of Dr Afrasheem’s residence, as he walked into the premises.

During the hearing of the trial, Humam also made several statements. He claimed that he was not mentally stable and that he wanted a psychologist to assess him before the trials proceeded.

He also claimed that after the police arrested him, he was taken to Villimale Police Station where police psychologically tortured him. Humam claimed that the police officers in Villimale Police station showed him photos of Afrasheem’s body, and a document that claimed the state would begin enforcing death penalty.

He also alleged to the court that senior police officers including Abdulla Riyaz, Mohamed Navaz and Mohamed Dhaoodh had met him and tried to force him to confess to the murder. He also claimed that Minister of State for Home Affairs Mohamed Fayaz had also met him and requested he confess to the crime, implying that his previous confession was due to police influence.

He also went onto allege that the sitting Judge Abdulla Didi – Vice President of Judicial Service Commission (JSC) – had already picked a side on the case and that he was “heavily aligned” with the prosecution.

Humam’s defence lawyer Abdulla Haseen during the hearing requested the judge give permission for the defence to produce their own witnesses, supporting the argument that Humam had not been at the place of crime but was rather at the Henveiru Stadium.

Concluding the hearing, Judge Didi said the court would decide on whether to grant permission to the defence counsel to present their witnesses at a later date. No date was announced by the judge.


Chief suspect in Afrasheem murder case retracts confession, claims to have been coerced

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.

Next hearing

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.