One year on, Maldives blogger's gruesome murder still haunts family

"Its been lonely and empty. We are helpless as our strength and resolved has waned. Its been a year. But it hasn't seemed like we've been without him. Our lives have been turned upside down," Yameen Rasheed's mother struggled for words as she wiped away tears with a tissue she clutched in her trembling hand.

Its been a year since renowned local blogger and social media activist Yameen Rasheed was hacked to death in the stairwell of his own home. His family has been forced to limp on, haunted by the remorseless and senseless killing, knocking on doors, pleading and begging for justice.

It seemed as even the house itself remains in mourning. An eerie silence, despair and suffering emanate from its very walls. The family desperate for justice for the very son who had always stood for what was right. The son who bravely defended, spoke out and fought for justice.

"It really doesn't feel like its been that long [one year]. The wounds are still fresh. We re-live it every single day. Our whole family is suffering. It doesn't end with the killing of a loved one. From that point, the struggle of the family begins. We're all still struggling to deal with the pain and the constant fear," Mariyam Shafeega told AVAS.

Shafeega used to worry when Yameen returns home late which he did on most nights after working late. Some nights when she's lying in bed, Shafeega says she senses her son coming home. She lifts her head often to check, to only realize that her beloved son would never come home again.

"No one can understand. He's not a person who deserves this. He's a good man. Everybody who knows him will tell you that...," Shafeega struggled to complete the sentence as she choked back tears.

Yameen's father said his son always believed in truth and justice. This was why Yameen attended and participated in every social movement or cause to fight for what he believed in.

"He firmly believed in truth and justice. But I still saw him as young. That's why I kept telling him to go abroad for studies. That was my advise for him. He would never say no to me. But he always wanted justice for everyone," Yameen's father said.

"I keep him close to my heart still. I can never forget him. I never even dreamed that I would be forced to see this day. Now I'm fighting to get justice for my son," the teary eyed father added.

Family no closer to justice

The way the police began the investigation offered hope of justice for Yameen's family. But one year later, the whole scene has changed as his family battles for justice.

"How would we even know that justice is being served. Not even a single hearing has been opened for public. We extremely concerned as we don't know anything," Shafeega said.

Six suspects have been charged with first degree murder but the trial is being held behind closed doors on request of the state prosecutor.

The 'secret trial' has led the family to believe that the authorities were hiding something. Especially when repeated attempts to meet the relevant authorities by the family have been futile. With each passing day, the chances of justice being served gets slimmer, Shafeega bemoaned.

She also said the family would struggle to ask for 'Qisas' (retributive justice according to Islamic law) against the killers if they do not know if the trial has been fair.

"We don't how or why it [murder] happened. If look at it, this is not something [closed door trial] that can be done. This really should be an open trial. I don't know why this has been made a secret trial. I don't know what they are trying to hide," she alleged.

"They [authorities] told us that the murderers were just normal street thugs. That there was no political affiliation, motivation or funding of any kind. So that's exactly what we don't understand. Why has the trial been made secret. This is very sad and concerning for us. No one would even speak to us let alone tell us anything."

The once happy family has now been haunted by despair, fear and suffering. Forced to be in the dark, pleading and begging for justice that appears to be as far away as it was the fateful night one year ago.