Mohamed Anas was brutally murdered because he was mistaken by his assailants for a member of a rival gang, the police have revealed.
Anas, a 25-year-old speedboat captain from the island of Meedhoo in Raa atoll, was stabbed to death by a group of masked men inside a motorcycle shop in Malé around 9:15 pm on July 31.
At a press briefing Tuesday afternoon, the head of the new major crimes department said the assailants went looking for rival gang members after learning that they were spotted near the Litus Service Centre.
Anas was “the mistaken target of an attack intended to kill other people,” said Chief Station Inspector Mohamed Samih.
Anas, who was sitting on a parked cycle, ran into the Litus garage when he saw eight armed men on four motorbikes drive into the narrow alley. Four of them followed Anas into the shop and stabbed him 25 times before fleeing the scene.
All eight suspects, including a minor, are now standing trial. Usman Shareef, 23, and Ahmed Zayan, 19, were charged with murder whilst Junaih Abdulla, 19, Hassan Mahfooz, 22, and Simah Moosa, 23, were charged with aiding and abetting.
They were arrested between August 13 and September 19. Charges against the minor were filed at the juvenile court earlier this month.
Two more suspects were arrested after the police launched a manhunt and sought public assistance. Mohamed Shaz, 21, was arrested on September 27 and Afrah Abdul Razzaq, 21, was arrested while hiding out in a house in Malé on October 8.
Samih said some of the assailants wore marks but the police have the capability to identify disguised suspects. A special investigative team analysed 517 hours of video footage and questioned 53 people.
According to a video presentation at the press briefing, the fatal stabbing was part of a cycle of violence and revenge attacks arising from a feud between two groups.
The police said Anas came to Malé on July 29 and went to the Litus Service Centre to meet friends working there. He also worked at the garage about two years ago.
Staff at the motorcycle shop tried to staunch the bleeding but Samih said it was “regrettable” that no one else in the area sought to help. “We have also noted that they took photos and videos,” he added.
Disturbing security camera footage — showing Anas being repeatedly stabbed — 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.