Verdict in Afrasheem murder trial due on September 7

Judge Abdulla Didi has declared today that a verdict in the murder trial of Dr Afrasheem Ali will be delivered on September 7, reports local media.

The accused Ali Shan is on trial for allegedly 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.

Following testimony at today’s hearing from witnesses for the defence, Judge Didi said closing statements would be heard at the next trial date on August 28.

At the last hearing, four witnesses testified that Shan was at the Jalapeno restaurant on the night that MP Dr Afrasheem Ali was murdered.

A fifth witness, Ubaidhulla Saeed, told the court today 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 in the Dolphin Cafe when he heard of the murder. Shan was with him at the time, he said.

At a previous hearing, a witness for the prosecution testified to have seen Shan holding a blood-stained knife near Dr Afrasheem’s body by the staircase of the deceased’s residence.

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.


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.