A suspect charged over the abduction of journalist Ahmed Rilwan drove a red car in Hulhumalé around the time of the kidnapping, a court heard Monday.
Two suspects – Aalif Rauf and Mohamed Nooradeen – are charged in connection with the abduction on August 8, 2014.
Prosecutors allege that Maldives Independent journalist Rilwan was taken by the pair and that a red car owned by Aalif was used in the abduction.
The prosecution witness told the court he was with Nooradheen from 8pm to 3am on the night of the abduction and that he dropped the suspect off at home. He said the red car was not used that night and remained parked on the street.
The witness was a friend of Nooradheen. He worked with him in a water sport business in Hulhumalé and had given him an alibi.
The witness said Nooradheen was seen driving a red car around the time of the abduction and that Nooradheen told him that the car was Aalif’s. However, the witness said the car was used to transport tourists.
Two boat captains who ferried the red car between Malé and Hulhumalé also testified. They said they had ferried a private car to Hulhumalé and brought it back on August 13, 2014, however the two captains were not sure if it was the same red car.
Judge Adam Arif said he would decide at a later date whether to allow testimony from Rilwan’s brother.
Prosecutors want Moosa Rilwan’s testimony to confirm that a hair found inside the red car did not belong to him. The DNA of the hair matches that of Rilwan’s mother’s. Other siblings have already testified they were never in the car.
The judge said he would decide once prosecution and defence witnesses had given evidence.
The third suspect being charged over the abduction, Mohamed Suaid, was among five suspects arrested in Rilwan’s case in September 2014. According to the police, he left for Syria after his release from custody. His family claim he is dead.
The judge said he would decide how to proceed in Suaid’s case after clarifying his whereabouts with the immigration department.
In April 2016, after nearly two years of denying any link between Rilwan’s disappearance and an abduction outside his building, the police revealed evidence backing the inference that he was forced into a car at knife-point as reported by neighbours in the early hours of August 8, 2014.
The red car belonged to Aalif and DNA from hairs lifted from its trunk matched Rilwan’s mother, the police revealed at the time, also showing footage of Suaid tailing the missing journalist before he was last seen entering the Hulhumalé ferry terminal.