The first open hearing in the murder trial of slain blogger Yameen Rasheed was cancelled Thursday, with the family condemning the move by the Criminal Court.
It had been scheduled for 11am but was cancelled 15 minutes before it was due to start. Defence lawyers were busy, court staff informed family members.
Preliminary hearings have been closed to the public and press at the request of the Prosecutor General’s office, despite requests by family and friends to open the trial.
“It seems defence lawyers are very influential on our judiciary in this case. It’s more than a year since the case is filed in the court. Every time the judge surrenders to the defence lawyers. This is why (we) say that the government is complicit in this murder case,” Yameen’s father Hussain Rasheed tweeted.
Maumoon Hameed, who is representing one of the defendants, hit out at the social media backlash.
“Ismail Rasheed’s lawyers attended court as summoned, only to be told of the cancellation at 11.10 a.m. My understanding is the court had granted leave to some lawyers prior to scheduling this hearing.”
The criminal court media official was not responding to calls for comment.
Six of the seven suspects – Ismail Haisham Rasheed, Ahmed Zihan Ismail, Ismail Rasheed, Mohamed Dhifran, Hassan Shifaz, and Hussain Ziyad – were charged with felony murder and remain in state custody. The offence carries the death penalty.
A seventh suspect, Mohamed Yashfau Rasheed, was charged with aiding and abetting murder and transferred to house arrest.
The hearing has been rescheduled to 3pm on June 27.