Four of the five men charged in connection with the murder of 25-year-old Mohamed Anas were Monday given 10 days to appoint lawyers.
Anas, a speedboat captain from the northern island of Meedhoo in Raa atoll, was stabbed 37 times in July by a group of masked men inside the Litus Service Centre in the Galolhu ward of the capital.
He died while undergoing treatment at the nearby ADK hospital. He was the fourth murder victim of the year.
Usman Shareef, Ahmed Zayan, Junaih Abdulla, Hassan Mahfooz, and Simah Moosa were charged last Thursday, while the Prosecutor General’s office also filed charges against a 17-year-old.
Local media reported that the pre-trial hearing of the minor is expected to begin at the juvenile court this week.
The police also launched a manhunt for two other suspects in August. Mohamed Shaz was arrested late September and Afrah Abdul Razzaq was arrested while hiding out in a house in Malé on October 8.
Authorities have yet to decide on whether to press charges against the pair.
Usman and Zayan were charged with murder, while the rest were charged with aiding and abetting.
At Monday’s hearing, all five suspects dressed in long-sleeved t-shirts and sporting unruly shoulder length hair, appeared in front of Judge Adam Arif as he questioned them about seeking legal counsel.
Four of the suspects – Usman Shareef, Ahmed Zayan, Junaih Abdulla, and Simah Moosa – were given 10 days each to appoint lawyers.
Hassan Mahfooz arrived with a lawyer, but requested for more time to respond to charges as he had only received the necessary court documents that day. He was told to respond at the next hearing.
The court held a closed-door remand hearing for the five suspects, who remain under police custody.
Disturbing security camera footage — showing Anas being repeatedly stabbed inside the motorcycle shop — was later leaked online.
The fatal stabbing came amid a spike in violent crimes in Malé and prompted an outpouring of grief on Meedhoo. In early August, hundreds of people clad in black and carrying banners and placards joined family and friends for a protest march demanding justice for the killing.