The world stopped a year ago for Hussein Rasheed. His 29-year-old son Yameen had been brutally attacked in Malé after returning home from work.
Hussein waited as hospital staff frantically sutured wounds and tried to stop the bleeding. He later saw that his son’s throat had been slashed and that part of his skull was missing. Hussein counted more than 30 deep wounds on his son’s chest, face and head.
Yameen, an outspoken blogger and internet activist, was murdered in the stairwell of his apartment building.
The suspects were brazen enough to kill him on his doorstep, but a year later the state remains secretive about the judicial process.
Hearings are either called off without reason or closed to the media and public, including Yameen’s family.
The Maldives Independent contacted the Prosecutor General’s office on several occasions to ask why hearings were either happening behind closed doors or not at all. There was no response.
It has previously said there will be open hearings at some point and that the trial, which is in its seventh month, remains at the preliminary stage.
— Kullhavah Thadu 🌹 (@ithadu) April 17, 2018
An year gone by & perpetrators of the horrifying murder of an innocent man roams free.Speaks for priorities of our institutions,competency & vested interests?Perhaps resource allocation to punish such brutal murderers is what’s needed for a safer&peaceful society #OpenTheTrial🎈
— Sheena Mohamed 🎈❓ (@Sheen_Mohamed) April 17, 2018
Yameen Rasheed (@yaamyn) – the disobedient writer was a friend, a blogger, an intellectual, a free thinker and a true humanitarian. He was a defender of rights and had an environmental conscious. #WeAreYaamyn and we demand to #OpenTheTrial pic.twitter.com/ubebJXwwkF
— ECOCARE Maldives (@ecocare_mv) April 18, 2018
“We can only guess why the trial is closed,” says Yameen’s sister Aisha.
“It could be because the case is weak. It could be to protect the culprits. If there is nothing to hide, why close it to family? It is a shame that citizens have to put up with this. Nobody had the right to kill him but some people did – just as they told him they would – for years. And now they are getting away with it too.”
The trial has attracted a lot of public interest because Yameen spoke out against religious extremism — and received death threats because of it. He reported the threats to the police, who took no action.
Aisha believes the family is being punished because of his position on extremism and free speech, with the punishment a drawn-out and exclusive trial where there is neither information nor access.
“The government, or anyone connected to it, is unwilling to ask or answer questions or even show any empathy when my brother was murdered in such a gruesome manner,” she says. “What is this unsaid rule that everyone understands? It has been one year now and all we are left with is questions.”
— umay mohamed 🎈 (@umaymohamed) April 17, 2018
Open @yaamyn’s trial – his family & the public have a right to observe the hearings. After a rushed trial, with death penalty for murder lifted, this govt will seek his family’s approval for executions. How can they make such a decision on a trial held in secrecy? #OpenTheTrial
— MushfiqMohamed (@MushfiqMohamed) April 17, 2018
What action was taken to prevent the murder of Yaamyn from taking place on 23rd April 2017?
Who made those threats against him?@PoliceMv what action did you take when he reported that threats were being made?
— Maeed Zahir (@maeed) April 17, 2018
Police initially told media the investigation had not shown any connection between the murder and a political or religious group. However, in the same briefing police said he was killed for mocking Islam and that they had information of the people who have planted the idea, assisted and even encouraged the murder suspects.
Police spokesman Ahmed Shifan did not respond to the Maldives Independent’s requests for updates about the people who inspired the killing.
To the outsider it could look like the state is either unable or unwilling to pursue this murder case.
An expert in facial recognition claims police declined his offer to help analyse video material related to the crime, while calls to authorities are unanswered or stonewalled. Nobody seems to know anything, least of all Yameen’s family.
“A transparent trial, open to the public is important,” says Aisha. “As his family, we want to and we have a right to know the truth. What is it that people feared so much about him that he had to be killed?”
The family’s lawyer, and former attorney general, Husnu Suood said justice could only be delivered through an openly conducted trial.
“It is both in the interest of the victim’s family and the public that the court must not conduct the trial of this heinous crime behind closed doors,” he told the Maldives Independent. “If the state has nothing to hide, the prosecution wouldn’t have asked for the trial to be held in secret.
“By holding secret trials the state is made to look that they are on the side of the perpetrators rather than procuring justice,” he said.
Family and loved ones deserve to know the truth, and @yaamyn deserves justice. Who killed Yaamyn? What is the govt so afraid of that they want to hold the trial in secrecy? #OpenTheTrial #JusticeForYaamyn #WeAreYaamyn
— Aya Naseem 🎈 (@AyaNaseem) April 18, 2018
If as per @PoliceMv, @yaamyn's assassination is an open-and-shut case of lone fanatics on a vendetta, Why the secrecy?
Why is the case being heard at court in total secrecy without even access to the victim's family?
— Hamid Shafeeu (@shafeeu) April 17, 2018
— Shahindha Ismail 🎈 (@HindhaIsmail) April 18, 2018
Former solicitor general Ibrahim Riffath said that Yameen’s murder – and the trial – had many consequences.
“Transparent hearings are absolutely crucial in terms of upholding due process as well guaranteeing justice and impartiality in the eyes of the public,” he said. “The discretionary power to exclude the public from all or part of the trial in Article 42 c) of the constitution is to be exercised under exceptional circumstances.
“However, nowadays, too often we see judges declare closed-door hearings without a legal basis or explanation, but based only on their own whims.”
— Alice in Mordis 🎈 (@ciceline) April 15, 2018
An year ago.
— YumRashyd 🎈❓ (@YumnaRashyd) April 16, 2018
But Shahindha Ismail, who is executive director of local rights group the Maldivian Democracy Network, says it is important for the family to observe hearings even though it is understandable that some hearings might be closed to the media and wider public.
“Should the state succeed in a conviction, the death penalty will apply. This means that each of the heirs will be required to make a decision regarding qisas. It is unfair to exclude Yameen’s family in the only process which will allow for them to make a sound judgement regarding qisas.”
She also said Yameen’s murder, and the killers’ disregard for the rule of law, was a matter of public interest.
“The murder of Yameen and others before and after him proves one thing – that the state has failed to protect the right to life of its people. The people have every right to know what happened, how it happened and who was behind it. The state must open the trial.”
— dhumya 🎈 (@dhumyahmed) April 11, 2018
Didn't knew him. Was not active on twitter in those days. But taking a young life like that makes me sick.
The one who commited this horrendous crime deserves the punishment. Yet they roam free in the streets. We demand justice. May Allah grant him Jannah.
— Saajid Rasheed (@Sajidryd) April 10, 2018
— Shauna Aminath 🎈❓ (@anuahsa) April 17, 2018
This isn't the death penalty.
This is Abdulla Yameen killing alleged terrorists, who assassinated blogger Yameen Rasheed, and getting away with it. https://t.co/TDgob7YYdk
— MushfiqMohamed (@MushfiqMohamed) April 22, 2018
Hi @yaamyn. I remember you on days like these. Your fearlessness in taking on the ridiculous hypocrisy and your humour in portraying how inane these perceived slights at faith are. Even now the words you’ve left behind are filled with so much more bravery than we can muster. 🎈
— Sabra #FreePN 🎈 (@SabraNoordeen) April 22, 2018
The sweetest and later the most heartbreaking bday wish of last year. I guess at least I can find some solace in the fact that your final words to me were so meaningful 🎈#JusticeForYaamyn #WeAreYaamyn #OpenTheTrial pic.twitter.com/RlFNAbnwWe
— Noosh 🎈❓ (@NooshinWaheed) April 19, 2018
I refuse to believe the narrative that some random ppl gathered one fine day to murder my brother. This was a planned high profile assassination with political and police backing. These goons were paid. Who is behind it? Whom are you so afraid of? #OpenTheTrial #JusticeForYaamyn
— Aisha🎈 (@mysticaish) April 20, 2018
Yaamyn spoke about the increasing radicalization in the country. He was not afraid to write on topics that could easily make “some people” very “uncomfortable”. Yaamyn was a true advocate and a defender of human rights. He is missed! #WeAreYaamyn and we demand to #OpenTheTrial pic.twitter.com/fCsP0qFrau
— Maeed Zahir (@maeed) April 20, 2018
A closed door trial is higly exceptional & warranted only where an overriding public interest dictates closure such as info prejudicial to national security.
— Dhiyana 🎈 (@dhiyanasaid) April 21, 2018