The criminal court has sentenced a man to death over the 2012 murder of a 16-year-old student in Malé.
Mohamed Visam was found guilty of stabbing Mohamed Arham with a knife in May 2012. The ruling was based on eyewitness testimony.
Three others charged over the killing – Mohamed Sufiyan, Mansoor Yoosuf and Athif Rasheed – were acquitted, with the court citing insufficient evidence.
Arham’s body was found in a pool of blood with multiple stab wounds in the neck, back and chest at the Lorenzo Park in Malé four years ago.
Police officers, who found his body while patrolling the area at 6am on May 22, told the court that they had seen blood splattered on the walls of the park. Arham was a ninth-grader at Dharumavantha School.
At the time, investigators said Arham’s killing was a revenge attack following an argument between two criminal gangs. Arham, who had no criminal record, was said to frequent the park, a hotspot of one of the two gangs.
The police had initially arrested six men on suspicion of the murder but later pressed charges against four, all of who denied their involvement in court.
Prosecutors said the four had gone to Lorenzo Park on the night of the killing and attacked Arham.
According to a summary of the verdict published online on September 22, a prosecution witness said he had seen Visam attack Arham with a knife. Separate witness testimonies against Visam recalled him entering the park and holding Arham by his chest.
Visam was sentenced to death under the Islamic Sharia principle of qisas, or retaliation in kind. Qisas allows the victim’s family to request that the person found guilty of murder be sentenced to death. The guilty verdict must be reviewed by both the high court and the supreme court before the death sentence can be implemented.
The criminal court said that the three other suspects were acquitted due to discrepancies in witness testimony. Further details were not provided.
Among the accused, Athif was freed from detention by the criminal court earlier this year while three others were held in remand. Sufiyan and Yoosuf will be freed on their acquittal.
According to newspaper Mihaaru, the case was transferred between three judges. Judge Muhthaz Fahmy initially handled the case, but it was later transferred to Judge Abdulla Didi.
Didi was appointed to the high court and the case was assigned to Judge Ibrahim Ali. Didi did not hold any hearings in the case.
There are some 17 prisoners on death row in the Maldives.