Religious extremists killed blogger, Maldives police confirm

Religious extremists had murdered prominent social media activist and blogger Yameen Rasheed, police confirmed Wednesday.

The 29-year-old social media activist was found with severe stab injuries in the stairwell of his home and was rushed to the state-run Indira Gandhi Memorial Hospital (IGMH) where he was pronounced dead shortly after.

According to the family, Yameen was stabbed over 30 times in the neck, chest and face.

Police during a press conference on Wednesday had shown a video based on the investigation said a total eight people had been involved in the gruesome killing.

Though none of the suspects had any formal Islamic education they had accused Yameen of blasphemy which according to the suspects cannot be tolerated, police said.

Police also quickly denied any links between the suspects and a particular extremist group adding that the suspects had no political affiliations.

Police said the case against the eight suspects had been forwarded for prosecution.

Police had revealed the identities of the three culprits behind the gruesome murder. The three men are; Ismail Rasheed, 25, Ismail Haisham Rasheed, 21, and Ahmed Zihan Ismail, 22, all from the capital city Male.

According to Police, suspects Ismail Rasheed and Ismail Haisham Rasheed both have criminal records. Ismail Haisham Rasheed was convicted of mugging, while Ismail Rasheed has a record of affiliating with a known local gang.

Yameen had been very vocal about receiving death threats for publishing his strong views on politics and religious extremism through his political-satire blog ‘The Daily Panic’.

He had even claimed on social media that he reported these threats to the police, but that it fell on deaf ears. However, the police claim that they did investigate the threats and gave regular updates to Yameen.

The victim's family meanwhile has filed a negligence lawsuit against the police.

During the last hearing of the trial, the state had asked the judge for a closed door trial citing the ongoing murder investigation. The victim's family however, objected to the state request insisting an open and transparent trial.

Police highlighted that they analysed over 1,850 hours of surveillance footage collected from security cameras all across the capital city Malé. Furthermore, police added they also analysed over 40,000 photographs of people aged 20-40 in search of the culprits.

Police had sought expert advice and assistance, and checked the information databases of several government institutions during the investigation.