MP Dr. Afraasheem's murder comes within three months of the brutal murder and decapitation of famous lawyer Ahmed Najeeb, also on the capital Male'. In between came the knife slaying of a police officer, Lance Corporal Adam Haleem, on Kaafu Kaashidhoo island in July while he was on duty.
The youth organizers of Friday's rally have told media that they will be calling for death penalty as in Islamic Shari'a and for the enforcement of Islamic Sharia in the Maldives. No registered civic associations or political parties have been named in the organizing group for the rally.
Leading members of the Government, including the Islamic Minister Sheikh Mohamed Shaheem Ali Saeed, Attorney General Aishath Azima Shakoor and Home Minister Mohamed Jameed Ahmed have all publicly expressed the view that Islamic Sharia is very strict on Q'isas, the rule of death penalty for murder, and that several procedural steps must be strictly followed before death penalty can be implemented on the basis of Islamic Shari'a. In his sermon at Friday Prayers on October 12, 2012, Sheikh Shaheem dealt with the principles of Q'sas and called upon the authorities to urgently enact a law to implement Q'sas.
The Government announced on yesterday that it would be sending a bill on the death penalty to the Parliament within three weeks. The period required was to get input from legal and religious sources, it said.
In the debates following each murder, MPs have also expressed vocal support for the death penalty. Death penalty is justified as a deterrence to violent crime, several said. Violent crime and killings and crimes can only be halted by a death penalty law, is the view voiced by proponents of death penalty in Maldives.
Following Q'isas principles, the victim's heirs were asked for their decision on implementing the court decision. All eight heirs had asked the Judge for the death penalty while one had urged a public execution. Islamic Sharia dictates that, even if one of the heirs pleas for mercy, a death sentence cannot be delivered, but must be commuted to a lesser sentence. Hana's lawyers have appealed the conviction, on the basis on that Hana had gone to sleep after tying the victim to a chair and claimed that Hana had no knowledge that Najeeb had been murdered. However, evidence presented by the State included CCTV footage which showed that Hana had accompanied Murrath to purchase the garbage bag used to dump the dismembered body. Both were caught on CCTV using the victim's cash card to withdraw money that night.
In the immediate aftermath of the death penalty verdict against Murrath and Hana, the Home Minister Mohamed Jameel Ahmed and Attorney General Aishath Azima Shakoor independently stated that death penalty can only be implemented after the procedures for implementing the death penalty are established. Both pointed out that there was no law to implement the death penalty, a view heavily criticized by the public on online media sites and on social media.The Home Minister stated that he is pro-death penalty, but that sentence can only be implemented after completion of the appeals process.
Home Minister Jameel added that a letter had been forwarded to the Parliament, requesting it to facilitate the implementation of death penalty by passing the relevant laws. The Government of Dr. Waheed has been shackled in Parliament to date due to Parliamentary Regulations which say that a bill by the Government can only be tabled by an MP belonging to the President's party. Dr. Waheed's party Qaumee Ittihad has no MPs in Parliament. However, last week, the Parliamentary Subcommittee on General Matters passed a motion allowing an MP of the coalition of parties in Dr. Waheed's government to table Government bills. This motion has yet to be tabled on the Parliament floor for approval.
not enough evidence to convicta juvenile charged with the murder of another youth on VilliMale' last year. The underage individual was one of four individuals charged with first degree murder of Miruza Ibrahim in April last year. The victim Miruza Ibrahim was beaten with wooden clubs and other weapons in VilliMale' on 11 April 2011, and died three days later while receiving care for his injuries.No individual has been convicted of the murder. All four charged by the State have pleaded not guilty.
presented evidence that it claimed showed that Nabeel was guilty of the murder. The State insisted that there were no grounds for reversing the death sentence on Nabeel. Faruhad was stabbed to death in Male' on March 2009, while the court sentence on Nabeel was delivered on November 22, 2010. Both Faruhad's parents had appealed to the court for a death sentence for their son's murderer.
In another ongoing murder trial, at a hearing on October 11, 2012, State submitted that there was no additional evidence to submit against one of three underage individuals accused of the murder of Ali Hassan (Ayyube) on Dhaalu Kudahuvadhoo island in January 2012. This individual, a step-grandson of the murdered elderly man, had lodged a not guilty plea on a charge of first degree murder while the other two pleaded guilty to the charge of being accessory to first degree murder. State had earlier requested permission to submit DNA proof against the individual charged with first degree murder. However, the State had been unable to submit the DNA evidence by the time the period granted by the court to submit it. All four heirs to the accused had appealed in court for death penalty for Ayyube's murderer(s).
The Maldives last carried out a death sentence in 1958, where the accused convicted of sorcery and witchcraft, were executed at gun point. Since then, although murder convictions have been delivered by the courts, the Government of the time had not implemented these, on the basis of a Constitutional provision which gave the Head of State the power of pardon. This provision was however removed from the new Constitution of 2008, on the basis that separation of powers of the State. At the time too, in the debate in the Special Constitutional Assembly for amendment of the Constitution, the experience of Afghanistan was pointed out whereby the Judiciary delivered "extreme" rulings citing Islamic Shari'a which were however disputed by Islamic scholars of more moderate views. This experience was cited as an example of the potential risk for justice in the Maldives.
However, some media still report that Maldivian law reportedly permits the Head of State to commute a death sentence from the courts to a lesser sentence. Religious scholars and private individuals have charged that this violates Islamic Sharia principles which give the victim's heirs the right to decide on death penalty for the killers once proven in court. A case requesting a ruling on this matter was submitted to the High Court by private individuals on August 8, 2012. The High Court has not yet ruled on the case. Islamic Minister Sheikh Shaheem, in his Friday Prayer sermon last Friday, also reiterated his view that a pardon was in the hands of the heirs of the murder victim and not the Head of State.
The issue is likely to be a weighty one in the political struggle between President Waheed and his unity government and that of former President Mohamed Nasheed and his party, MDP. Nasheed is reported to have foreign support due to his charges of Islamic extremism in the Maldives. Activists from his party, including Mariyam Naifa (pic), married to Nasheed's cousin, have been arrested in conjunction with MP Dr. Afraasheem's brutal murder. Police last Thursday confirmed that they have evidence that links all six individuals arrested to the murder. Five of the six have been identified as activists from MDP. In the midst of the war for public support, it remains to be seen how the issue of implementing the death penalty will be resolved in the Maldives.
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