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Basic questions about Rilwan unanswered by state, court hears

Three suspects have been charged in connection with the kidnapping of Ahmed Rilwan, who went missing three years ago.



Basic questions about an abducted Maldives Independent journalist have not been answered by the state including whether he is still alive, a court heard Thursday.

Three suspects have been charged in connection with the kidnapping of Ahmed Rilwan, who went missing three years ago.

Two of them, Aalif Rauf and Mohamed Nooradheen, are not in custody and arrived at court on a motorbike. The third defendant, Mohamed Suaid, travelled abroad and is now dead, his family claims.

The judge said authorities had not received information on whether he had died. The court has asked the police to clarify Suaid’s status, while the the immigration department has been asked to check his whereabouts.

Assistant Prosecutor General Hussain Nashid presented 29 pieces of evidence against Aalif and Nooradheen, including statements from neighbours who saw a man being forced into a red car and DNA lifted from the vehicle.

The pair said they did not understand the charges and their lawyer said the state had not established a connection between his clients and the charges.

“You could press those charges with that evidence against anyone in this room,” said Noorusalaam Aboobakur. “None of that evidence links or even mentions the names of Aalif or Noorahdheen.”

The lawyer said the evidence did not prove the two were involved in what happened to Rilwan.

The neighbours’ testimony failed to identify whether the man pushed into the car was Rilwan or whether Aalif or Noorahdheen were among the people who did it, he added.

Noorusalaam pointed out that the charges specified “terrorism without the loss of life” and asked the court if the state believed Rilwan was still alive.

“Even the state haven’t been able to say what exactly happened to Rilwan. Does the state describe the situation Rilwan is in as a situation that has not harmed his life?”

The state had also failed to specify the precise act of the crime committed by the defendants or the time and place of the crime, he said, noting these details were required under the criminal procedure code.

“The state is pressing the charges saying my defendants ‘hid’ Rilwan. If, so the state must be able to say where he was hidden. The state, to this day, has not been able to find Rilwan.

“This is something related to the emotions of many people, so the state must be able to say what exactly happened, when they point and press charges against my defendants.”

Nashid asked the judge for more time to review the defence counsel’s questions. The next hearing will be in the second week of January, Judge Arif told the court.