The immigration department has revoked the passport of a suspect wanted in connection with the near-fatal stabbing of Mahfooz Saeed, a member of former President Mohamed Nasheed’s legal team.
Local and international authorities have been informed of the cancellation of Hussain Shafraz’s passport, the department said in a statement on Thursday.
If he wishes to return and hand himself over to the police, it added, a travel document will be issued once Shafraz contacts the department through the foreign ministry.
Maldivians who refuse to return to the country despite facing criminal charges are not entitled to hold a passport, the department said.
Mahfooz Saeed was stabbed in the head with a 10-inch diving knife on September 4 last year, days before Nasheed’s high-profile international lawyers, Jared Genser and Amal Clooney, were scheduled to visit the country to meet with the jailed opposition leader.
In October, Interpol red notices were issued for Shafraz and a second suspect, Ahmed Raaid, who was arrested later that month.
A credible source told the Maldives Independent at the time that Shafraz was spotted at Sosun Villa, a property owned by the Maldivian government in Colombo. The source claimed to have seen him playing football with members of the Maldivian student community in Sri Lanka.
But a High Commission official denied the claim to local media.
The trial of Raaid and two other suspects meanwhile began in May. Raaid is accused of stabbing Mahfooz while the other defendants, Firaz Jaufar and Khalid Nafeeu, were charged as accomplices.
All three pleaded not guilty. The prosecutors said the stabbing was premeditated but did not suggest a motive for the attempted murder.
According to the prosecutors, Raaid tailed Mahfooz to Maaveyo Magu from the Olive Garden restaurant and stabbed the lawyer while he was sitting on a parked motorbike, lodging the blade about three inches deep above his left ear.
The 26-year-old narrowly survived the life-threatening attack after undergoing surgery at the Indira Gandhi Memorial Hospital to remove the knife. He also required further treatment in Sri Lanka.
In an article published on Foreign Policy after their visit, Clooney and Genser revealed that Attorney General Mohamed Anil had claimed that Mahfooz’s stabbing was related to other legal work.
“After our local counsel was stabbed in the head in broad daylight, the attorney general insisted the attack must have been related to one of his cases – even though the police did not appear to have conducted an investigation,” the pair wrote.
Clooney had met with Anil, on September 9, five days after the stabbing. Mahfooz denounced the AG’s claim and called for a proper investigation.