'Pleaded guilty on interpreter's instruction; did not kill Mahmood'

A Bangladeshi national, Sha Alom Mia (Salim), who was convicted and sentenced to death in the murder case of Dhangethi businessman Mahmood Aboobakuru, has said he did not kill Mahmood.

Mahmood, 57, was found murdered inside a well in an abandoned house in Dhangethi on October 15, 2021. Salim, 29, who worked on the island as a live-in caretaker of an elderly man, was arrested for the murder the following day. The State raised two charges against him: Murder with intent and the abuse of a corpse. Salim admitted to committing the crime during the investigation and pled guilty to both charges in court.

The victim's seven heirs agreed that they wished to seek 'Qisas' or equal retribution for Mahmood's murder and said they did not want blood money or 'Diyat'. In this regard, the Criminal Court sentenced Salim to death on February 27, 2022.

As per the law, if a person sentenced to death does not appeal the court's verdict, the prosecution must submit the case to the High Court to ensure the validity of the lower court's verdict.

In a hearing held at the High Court on Tuesday, Salim asked to change the interpreter arranged for him and arrange a Bangladeshi interpreter. Salim said he had previously confessed to the case as his interpreter, Khaleel, had instructed him to do so.

"I was told that if I confessed, I would be deported and sent home. I am not a person who did such a thing. That is why I do not want Khaleel as my interpreter," interpreter Khaleel said on Salim's behalf.

Salim also said he wanted to proceed with the case with a lawyer and asked the prosecution to arrange a lawyer. He requested to arrange a lawyer other than state prosecutor Ali Najeeb, who represented Salim in the lower court.

Mahmood, 57, was killed after a confrontation when he refused to give money to Salim. Mahmood was stabbed in the neck, head, and chest with a knife and sharp iron rods.