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Maldives court cancels slain blogger’s murder hearing for third time

No reason was given for the cancellation by court staff.



The Maldives Criminal Court Tuesday cancelled a hearing in the murder trial of slain blogger Yameen Rasheed for the third time in a row.

It was scheduled for 3pm, but was cancelled an hour before it was due to start. The court staff did not give a reason for the cancellation.

It was unclear if the hearing would have been open to the public.

His family was not informed of the hearing by the Prosecutor General’s Office as they had been on previous occasions.

The Maldives Independent called the Prosecutor General’s Office to ask why the hearing had been cancelled and why the family had not been informed.

A spokesman said he would have to check on both counts but had not responded at the time of going to press.

The Prosecutor General’s Office told the Maldives Independent on Wednesday the hearing was cancelled because lawyers were unable to attend, but did not specify which lawyers.

“I’m afraid I couldn’t speak for any of the other lawyers representing the other defendants but, as lawyers for Ismail Rasheed, we were fully prepared to attend the hearing and had not sought any cancellation,” Maumoon Hameed told the Maldives Independent.

“We were first informed of the cancellation by family members seeking to observe the hearing who were told so by court staff. My colleague went to court about ten minutes before the scheduled hearing time and asked the court staff to confirm cancellation, which they then did.”

He said the next hearing had been scheduled for 2.45 pm on July 30.

An open hearing in the murder trial has yet to be held.

It has been more than a year since the case was sent for prosecution. Preliminary hearings have been held behind closed doors from September 2017 to April this year.

The first open hearing had been scheduled for June 7, but it was cancelled 15 minutes before it was due to begin and rescheduled.

The second open hearing was scheduled for June 27 and it was cancelled earlier that day.

Seven suspects have been charged for the blogger’s murder.

Ismail Haisham Rasheed, Ahmed Zihan Ismail, Ismail Rasheed, Mohamed Dhifran, Hassan Shifaz, and Hussain Ziyad are 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.

This story has been updated.