UN rights experts say MP murder trial unfair, urge Maldives to halt execution

Hussain Humam convicted of killing MP Dr Afrasheem Ali being led to the Supreme Court on June 20, 2016. MIHAARU PHOTO/MOHAMED SHARUHAAN

Hussain Humam convicted of killing MP Dr Afrasheem Ali being led to the Supreme Court on June 20, 2016. MIHAARU PHOTO/MOHAMED SHARUHAAN

Four United Nations human rights experts on Saturday called on the Maldives government to halt the execution of a 22 year old convicted of killing a prominent lawmaker.

The Supreme Court had upheld death sentence of Hussain Humam Ahmed convicted of MP Dr Afrasheem Ali’s murder which could make him the first person to be executed in the Maldives for more than 50 years.

“Criminal proceedings against Mr. Ahmed did not afford him guarantees of fair trial and due process,” said the independent experts on arbitrary detention, summary executions, torture and independence of the judiciary.

“The implementation of a death sentence following judicial procedures which do not respect the most stringent guarantees of fair trial and due process is unlawful and tantamount to an arbitrary execution.”

The Supreme Court verdict came after a request made by Afrasheem’s family to hold off on the death penalty for Humam.

In a letter to the chief justice hours before the ruling, the father and brother of the late MP cited an incomplete murder investigation in retracting their earlier wish for the death penalty for his killer.

The family in the letter said Humam remains a key witness in identifying those who planned and funded the murder.

“The police had earlier said there are people who planned and funded [the murder of Dr Afrasheem]. Not knowing who they are, and what has been investigated about them, and because I believe Hussain Humam Ahmed’s word is needed to clear these doubts, we do not want qisas to be carried out against Humam until the investigation is complete,” said the letter, signed by Dr Afrasheem’s father Ali Zafir and brother Abdul Nasir Ali.

The unanimous ruling rejected defence’s claim of mental illness, and upheld the guilty verdict, noting the 22 year old had confessed to the murder at the lower court on two separate occasions.

The chief justice also highlighted the fact that Humam had not sought the final appeal on his own also proved that he had accepted the High Court ruling.

Humam had confessed to killing Afrasheem during a remand hearing. When the case reached the court, he retracted the confession, claiming his confession had been coerced.

Afrasheem’s body was discovered brutally stabbed to death in the stairwell of his home on October 2, 2012.

The UN rights experts’ joins the EU and Amnesty International to continue to apply the de facto moratorium on executions.

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