Criminal Court issues death sentence in gang murder case

The Criminal Court of the Maldives yesterday sentenced Mohamed Nabeel to death for the murder of Abdulla Faruhad, after reviewing the statements of witnesses and finding him guilty of the crime.

The Judge said that article 88[d] of the penal code of the Maldives stated that murders should be dealt accordingly to the Islamic Shariah and that persons found guilty of murder ”shall be executed” if no inheritor of the victim denies the murderer to be executed, according to Islamic Shari’ah.

The Criminal Court identified the murderer as Mohamed Nabeel, G. Reef and the victim as Abdulla Faruhad of Hulhudhoo in Seenu Atoll. As no inheritor of the victim opposed his execution, Nabeel was sentenced to death.

This is the first such sentence to be issued in a case related to gang murder. Previous death sentences issued in the Maldives have included (in 2005) those found to be involved in the death in custody of Evan Naseem, and the perpetrators of 1988 coup. None of these sentences were implemented.

The Prosecutor General’s office filed the case against Nabeel after the police arrested him on charges of deliberately killing Faruhad in revenge for harassing his sister Aiminath Niuma. The case report did not mention what kind of harassment occurred.

The judge said that during the police investigation Niuma admitted that her brother Nabeel attempted to attack Faruhad with a six inch box cutter on March 8, 2009.

In her statement to police, Niuma said she attempted to stop her brother from attacking Faruhad as he tried to flee, the judge stated.

However Niuma was unable to control her brother from throwing the box cutter at Faruhad which lodged in his back. Faruhad died the next day from his injuries.

The PG’s office presented CCTV footage of the incident and three witnesses.

The judge said that although Niuma had later in court dismissed her statements to police, which were fingerprinted by her father as she was underage at the time, ”it is unbelievable that her father read the statement and would fingerprint a false statement given regarding his own son.”

Sub-Inspector Ahmed Shiyam said he did not know how the sentence would be carried out,  but police would implement the verdict if requested by the court.

Attorney General Dr Ahmed Ali Sawad said he had not yet seen the ruling and would be unable to comment before going through the case.

Press secretary for the president Mohamed Zuhair said the the government would comment on the matter only after the judicial procedure was over, ”otherwise it could be considered as an influence on the verdict.”

He said that the accused had a 90 day term to appeal at higher courts if he felt the judgment was unfair.

Correction: An earlier version of this article stated that the last death sentence issued in the Maldives was following the 1988 coup attempt. This has been corrected to reflect the verdict in the trial over the death in custody of Evan Naseem.


One of ‘top six’ drug dealers found innocent by criminal court

The Criminal Court has ruled that Adam Naseer of H. Reendhooge is innocent of dealing drugs, despite being labelled by the government as one of the country’s ‘top six’ drug dealers and a police investigation lasting nearly a year.

Police searched Naseer’s home in Addu Atoll on 30 June 2009, where they found over Rf6 million (US$461,500) in cash and a tin containing drugs outside his house.

He was later arrested in early July in Addu Atoll, but “he wasn’t in prison the whole time,” explained President’s Office Press Secretary Mohamed Zuhair. “On several occasions the court has delayed his imprisonment until the hearing.”

Naseer’s arrest last year was a big break for the Prosecutor General’s office and the police, who had been leading an investigation and following Naseer for months.

Naseer had also been arrested in 2007 on drug dealing counts and later on counts of bribery and giving false information to the police, but he was released due to lack of evidence.

In his verdict, Judge Abdul Baary Yousuf said there was not enough evidence to prove the money had come from dealing drugs. He added that the drugs could have been placed outside Naseer’s house by anyone and did not necessarily belong to him.

Zuhair said Naseer “is still considered to be a top drug dealer. He was caught red-handed.”

He added that although the executive and legislative branches have been reformed with the change in government, “the justice system is still going the way it was in Gayoom’s time” and “many of the judges are sympathisers of Gayoom.”

Ahmed Adam, program coordinator for Journey, an NGO with a mission to help addicts maintain their recovery and to raise public awareness on drug issues, said “these people shouldn’t be on the streets. If they’re not behind bars, what will happen?”

“The judge should ask where all this money came from,” added Adam.

Only one witness claimed the drugs belonged to Naseer. Under Shari’ah law, there needs to be at least two witnesses to prove a person guilty, annulling the witness’s testimony.

Deputy Prosecutor General Hussein Shameen said “he should not released, but… the court has acquitted him.”

Prosecutor General Ahmed Muizzu said he had no comment on Naseer’s release, but added that his office would “appeal [the case] to the High Court.”

Two of the ‘top six’ have now fled the country. police are still investigating the remaining three suspects.

President Nasheed has previously said that while the government knows the identities of the top six drug dealers, their arrests would appear politically motivated as they included political opponents.