The high court has upheld today the death sentence of a young woman convicted of killing a prominent lawyer, despite her lawyer insisting the death penalty was disproportionate as she was an accomplice to the murder.
Fathimath Hana, 21 years, and her partner Ahmed Murrath were sentenced to death on July 19, just three weeks after lawyer Ahmed Najeeb’s after his body was discovered stuffed inside a dustbin, badly beaten with multiple stab wounds.
Murrath had confessed to the murder, claiming the killing happened in a “fit of rage,” allegedly because lawyer had planned to sexually assault Hana, who was 18 years at the time.
Hana did not have legal representation until the appeals court hearings began.
Her lawyer told the court that Hana’s role in the murder was to tie up Najeeb to a chair and gag him. She had no intention of killing the lawyer and that at the time of the killing, she was passed out, intoxicated from drinking alcohol.
Murrath, whose death sentence has also been upheld by the high court, has corroborated Hana’s statement.
However, in a unanimous ruling, judges said that in Islamic law, “a group of people whose intention to kill is proved by legal standards, (whether they dealt the death blow or not) will be considered a participant in the killing, and that will be sentenced under qisas.”
Qisas, meaning retaliation in kind, gives the right to a murder victim’s family to demand the life of the convict.
The verdict stated that this was called the Thamaa-lu’u principle in Fiqh or Islamic jurisprudence.
The prosecution had argued that both Hana and Murrath were equally responsible, because they had confessed to planning the murder a month before the killing. The pair were planning to get married and needed cash to construct a room for themselves, prosecutors said.
At the criminal court hearings, Hana had said: “We thought he must have a lot of money as he is a lawyer.” The pair had taken Najeeb’s cash cards from him and withdrawn money from his accounts.
Murrath’s death sentence was upheld in February 2015. His lawyers had urged a lesser sentence, claiming Murrath was intoxicated at the time.
Murrath meanwhile had claimed his confession was extracted under duress. But judges upheld the verdict arguing that he had not objected to the evidence presented against him.
The Maldives ended a six-decade moratorium on the death penalty last year. Some 17 people have been sentenced to death over murders since 2008.
Murrath and Hana’s verdicts will now be heard by the supreme court.