A Maldives couple accused of killing their teenage daughter’s newborn baby denied the charge Tuesday.
Abdul Gafoor Gasim and Azeeza Ibrahim are on trial for the murder of an infant who was discovered buried outside their home in June 2012.
Ibrahim’s 15-year-old daughter was the mother of the child and was later sentenced to be flogged with 100 lashes for fornication, despite being a victim of sexual abuse by her stepfather Gasim.
Her shocking story attracted global media attention and condemnation from human rights organisations at the time.
The sentence was overturned by the Maldives High Court in August 2013 following pressure from the international community.
A gender ministry spokesman told the Maldives Independent she was released from state care after she turned 18. He confirmed she was 21 years old.
Local media reports previously alleged that Gasim was the baby’s father but police did not confirm the allegations.
The charges read out by state prosecutors at Tuesday’s hearing said Ibrahim and Gasim did not take the girl to see a doctor after she became pregnant.
They failed to take the necessary steps to ensure the health of the unborn baby and hid the pregnancy even up until delivery.
Prosecutors also said the couple buried the newborn in the outdoor shower area of their home in Feydhoo island, Shaviyani Atoll, and were complicit and negligent in the infant’s death.
They listed the witnesses and documentary evidence supporting their case. They also listed about 11 islanders who, they said, would prove Ibrahim and Gasim covered up the pregnancy and failed to send the girl to a doctor.
Police officers would also be called on as witnesses to prove a baby had been buried at their home.
Case workers from the island’s Family and Children Services Center would also be witnesses, the court heard.
A doctor’s report, the doctor who prepared the report, a midwife’s form and testimony from the midwife would also be used as evidence.
Aminath Rukshana Ibrahim, who was representing Gasim and Ibrahim, said there would be no defence witnesses. The presiding judge concluded the hearing, giving state prosecutors five days to submit a pretrial motion.
Gasim appeared in court wearing green inmate’s clothing and was escorted by a prison officer. Ibrahim, who is not in custody, appeared in court with a state-appointed lawyer.
Gasim was additionally charged with child sexual abuse and possession of pornographic material. Ibrahim was charged with concealing a crime and failing to report child sexual abuse to the authorities.
It is not clear why Gasim was in prison uniform.
The Maldives Independent contacted a court spokesman to ask about convictions but there was no response at the time of going to press.