Criminal Court on Monday sentenced Afiya Mohamed to 20 years in prison for the murder of her three year old son, Mohamed Ibthihaal.
Afiya was charged with first degree murder and disobedience after her son was found murdered in their home in V. Rakeedhoo on 28 January 2015. Although Afiya previously pled guilty to the charges both before her trial and during court, she later withdrew her guilty plea.
During her trial, the defense had stated that her guilty plea cannot be accepted based on her mental condition. However, the judge presiding over the case said there are no legal grounds not to accept her guilty plea.
Afiya’s mental assessment was carried out by prominent psychologist Dr. Aishath Ali Naaz. According to her assessment, Afiya does not have a mental condition that prevents her from making her own choices. However, she was diagnosed with depression, anxiety and anger management issues, and was given medication based on the diagnosis. Dr. Naaz in her assessment said Afiya had assaulted her son deliberately.
Referring to the psychological reports, the Judge said that Afiya had admitted to assaulting Ibthihaal with the intention of murdering him both during the assessment and later during trial. Afiya had, over multiple occasions, admitted to beating and strangling her son on the day of his death with the intention of killing him, said the judge.
While medical reports confirm that Ibthihaal had died due to the injuries inflicted on him by his mother, and while psychological assessments show Afiya was of sound mind when the assault took place, the judge stated that Afiyas initial admittance of the guilt cannot be withdrawn.
Noting that Afiya herself had suffered sexual abuse at the hands of her mother and stepfather, and had been a victim of sexual abuse from other family members and were forced to commit sexual acts, the judge said that Afiya had not received justice for the wrongs that were done to her even though the issues were reported to the relevant authorities. Her past has contributed to her growing up in a criminal environment, and later hurting her own child and ultimately leading to his death, said the judge. However, Afiya’s sufferings is not a reason that justice should not be sought for Ibthihaal’s murder, said the judge.
In addition to her confession, other evidences and medical reports also confirm that Ibthithaal had died due to the injuries inflicted on him by his mother. Therefore, it is evident that Afiya can be convicted on charges of the intentional murder of a child, said the judge. However, the Islamic doctrine of ‘Qisas’ cannot be applied in this case as the required conditions are not fulfilled due to the murderer being the victim’s mother, and the right to take the life of the killer therefore cannot be applied, said the judge.
While discussing the sentence, the state requested to increase the sentence by four degrees to account for the withdrawal of the guilty plea, and requested to sentence Afiya to 20 years in jail. The defense said since the verdict had been reached based on Afiya’s initial guilty plea, the degree of the sentence must be reduced. However, the state said while Afiya had later withdrawn her guilty plea, and spoke regarding the incident in different ways over the course of the trial, there is no basis to reduce the degree of punishment.
After taking into account the requests of both parties, the judge decided that the degree of sentence cannot be reduced as Afiya had withdrawn her guilty plea, and therefore, is not a reason reduce punishment. The judge then sentenced Afiya to 20 years in prison and ordered her to fast for 60 consecutive days.