The Supreme Court of the Maldives has upheld the death penalty verdict issued by Criminal Court and upheld by High Court in State vs Hussain Humam of H. Lobby for the murder of late Parliamentarian Dr. Afrasheem Ali. This is the first time in the nation's history that Supreme Court had issued death penalty verdict.
The decision to uphold the death verdict was passed with the unanimous agreement of the five Justices of the Supreme Court.
The late Dr. Afrasheem’s next of kin had sent a letter to Supreme Court stating that they do not want to implement the death penalty of the murder on Hussain Humam until the investigation is fully completed. The letter sent by Dr. Afrasheem’s brother said that though the police had claimed that someone had paid Humam to carry out the murder, they had not been able to find out who organized the murder. Given the circumstance, the next of kin said that they did not wish to implement the death penalty. Supreme Court had refused to accept the letter, stating that it must be sent on official hours.
The Supreme Court process was the last legal avenue for Humam to escape the death penalty. In previous hearings the defense had raised key points. One of the key points was Humam's psychological status and the fact that Humam had confessed to the crime as he was coerced to doing so.
State said that while the defense had taken the psychological plea, they had not been able to prove that his condition was debilitating enough to overturn the criminal offense. The lawyer also said that the same had been applied to Humam's claim that he had been intimidated by the Police, adding that when he denied the confession he was still under Police custody and as such should face the alleged retribution.
In the last hearing Humam was granted the last opportunity to speak, which he used to direct comments on the Judges. Humam said the Prophet had decreed that unjust verdicts issued by Judges against Islamic Shariah will be reviewed by God and the unjust will be punished accordingly.
In announcing the verdict the Justices said any confession given freely in front of a Judge was valid and cannot be revoked. As such, Chief Justice Abdullah Saeed said there was no room to declare the confession was invalid. He said the first degree murder charges against Humam had been proven beyond reasonable doubt. He also said the Criminal Court verdict had shown the next of kin wanted to implement the death penalty. The Chief Justice said though the next of kin were minors their opinions need not to be sought out as enacted in some sects of Islam.
State vs Hussain Humam: a timeline
- January 10, 2013: state files first degree murder charges on the murder of Dr. Afrasheem
- January 20, 2013: Humam denies charges
- May 22, 2013: Humam confesses to murder
- May 22, 2013: Humam declares he does not need legal representation
- Later appoints one, once again denies charges
- November 21, 2013: Last hearing held after taking statements
- January 16, 2014: Criminal Court issues guilty verdict
- October 21, 2014: Appeal begins in High Court, denies having murdered Afrasheem
- September 7, 2015: High Court upholds Criminal Court verdict, sends case to Supreme Court
- June 22, 2016: Supreme Court concludes hearings
While the Supreme Court had upheld the verdict, the Government had decreed the verdict will be implemented. Former Home Minister Umar Naseer said death penalty will be carried out by hanging and that a regulation had been drawn up. He also said the Government will implement the death penalty within a month, however, the regulation has not been put up on the gazette.
Dr. Afrasheem Ali was murdered on October 1, 2012, in the stairwell of his residence H. Funvilu.