Police have forwarded cases of four additional individuals to the Prosecutor General’s Office (PGO) for their alleged involvement in the murder of MP Dr Afrasheem Ali last year – taking the total number of suspects facing charges over the attack to seven.
Police today confirmed that cases had been filed with the PGO on September 23 against Azleef Rauf, Shaahin Mohamed, Adam Salaah and Abdulla ‘Jaa’ Javid – son-in-law of opposition Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) Chair ‘Reeko’ Moosa Manik.
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.
State prosecutors have previously accused Hussain Humam of going to the residence of Dr Afrasheem and murdering him with a machete and a bayonet knife.
Along with Humam, Ali Shan faces the same charges. A minor identified as ‘Nangi’ meanwhile stands accused of aiding and abetting the murder, after police claimed he had accompanied Humam and Shan to the residence of Dr Afrasheem before the attack.
In August this year, two police officers testified at the Criminal Court against key suspect Hussein Humam, claiming they had discovered incriminating text messages on his phone during a random search on the night of the murder. The message was said by the police witnesses to discuss a failure to receive a payment the suspect he had been promised.
The police officer did not identify the recipient of the text message during the hearing, alleging that Humam – who they had stopped many times previously – was under the influence of an illegal substance and acting out of character.
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 in court, 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. However at a subsequent hearing in June, Humam retracted his confession claiming that he had been coerced by police.
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.
To mark one year since the attack that killed the MP yesterday (October 1), the PPM called on the country’s courts to expedite trials of all those involved in the case in order to “enforce due justice” on the attackers, according to local media.
The Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) last month meanwhile condemned alleged insinuations by religious NGO Jamiyyathul Salaf preacher Sheikh Adam Shameem Ibrahim suggesting that the party was behind Dr Afrasheem’s murder.
Following the first round of voting in which the MDP took 45.45 percent of the popular vote and secured its place as front runner in a run-off vote that remains indefinitely suspended by the country’s Supreme Court, the party slammed what it alleged was an “incitement of hatred” by the NGO.
The Maldives Police Services (MPS) announced in October 2012 that the FBI were extending assistance in the investigation of the MPs murder.
Commissioner of Police Abdulla Riyaz later stated during 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.”
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.
On the night of his murder, Dr Afrasheem had made his last public appearance on a live talk show on state broadcaster Television Maldives (TVM) titled “Islamee Dhiriulhun” (Islamic Living).
In the program, Dr Afrasheem said he was deeply saddened and asked for forgiveness from citizens if he had created a misconception in their minds due to his inability to express himself in the right manner.
Minister of Islamic Affairs Sheikh Shaheem Ali Saeed was meanwhile quoted in local media as saying that the Islamic Ministry had not forced Dr Afrasheem to offer a public apology for anything in his last television appearance.
Dr Afrasheem’s moderate positions on subjects such as listening to music had drawn stringent criticism from more conservative religious elements, who dubbed him “Dr Ibilees” (“Dr Satan”).
In 2008, the scholar was kicked and chased outside a mosque after Friday prayers, while more recently in May 2012, the religious Adhaalath Party released a statement condemning Afrasheem for allegedly “mocking the Sunnah”.
In a three-page press release (Dhivehi) released on July 10, 2008, NGO Salaf listed Dr Afrasheem’s alleged transgressions and advised the moderate religious scholar to “fear Allah, stop talking any way you please of things you do not know of in the name of religion and [stop] twisting [Islamic] judgements to suit your personal wishes”.