Court dismisses police negligence lawsuit from murdered blogger’s family

Court dismisses police negligence lawsuit from murdered blogger’s family
September 19 09:15 2017

The civil court has dismissed a lawsuit filed by the family of slain blogger Yameen Rasheed over the failure of the police to protect him despite numerous death threats reported to the authorities.

On Sunday, Judge Abdul Nasir Shafeeq decided that the court does not have the jurisdiction to hear the negligence suit as investigating complaints of police misconduct was the task of the National Integrity Commission, an oversight body for law enforcement authorities.

But Yameen’s family challenged the court’s reasoning. The NIC was mandated to look into complaints involving individual police officers, the family noted in a statement Monday, contending that the Maldives Police Service as an institution was the subject of the negligence case.

Vowing to continue the fight for justice for Yameen, the family said both the institution and individual officers complicit in the failure to properly investigate the death threats “should be held accountable before the law”.

Yameen had filed separate complaints in 2010, 2014 and most recently in late December 2016. He also criticised the police on social media over the failure to respond to the complaints.

The family sued the police a week after the 29-year-old satirist was found dead in the stairwell of his residence in Malé. The court conducted four hearings but informed lawyers after cancelling a hearing scheduled for July 17 that the judge has asked the police watchdog to investigate the claims of negligence.

The future of the case will be determined after the NIC responds to the court, the lawyers were told.

“Any action from the civil court should not be subject to an administrative body,” the family’s lawyer Husnu Suood told the Maldives Independent at the time.

“The question is whether the court will even look into the case if the NIC says that they found no negligence. We do not know if the commission will respond or how long it will take them to respond.”

In July last year, the police released a statement declaring that the Maldives Police Service as an institution will answer to the actions of individual police officers in the line of duty.

The trial of six suspects charged in connection with the brutal murder meanwhile began last week with secret preliminary hearings.

Yameen’s family had previously questioned the ability of the police to conduct an impartial and credible investigation due to the failure to arrest suspects in the abduction of Maldives Independent journalist Ahmed Rilwan and the near-fatal attack on blogger Hilath Rasheed.

Like Yameen, both Rilwan and Hilath were prominent liberal voices against radicalisation.