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Prosecutor General assures slain blogger’s family of open trial

Yameen Rasheed was killed a year ago and hearings are either being held in secret or cancelled altogether.



There will be an open trial for the murderers of slain blogger Yameen Rasheed, the prosecutor general told his family on Sunday.

Yameen was killed a year ago and hearings are either being held in secret or cancelled altogether.

His family, along with activists, attempted to meet Prosecutor General Aishath Bisham ahead of the first anniversary of his brutal murder but were turned away and told to return a week later.

“We remain hopeful even though it is very hopeless,” said his mother Mariyam Shafeega after Sunday’s meeting with Bisham. “Because of how things have turned out, it is difficult to have hope. PG told us that the trial will be open and we are hopeful that it will be so,” she said.

It was the family’s first meeting with the prosecutor general and their only meeting with a high-ranking government official since their son’s death.

“The PG told us that they will give us more information about it in a week,” said Yameen’s father Hussein. “They told us that they didn’t want to meet others because they wanted to share the information with us.”

Six preliminary hearings have been held behind closed doors in Yameen’s murder trial.

In October 2017, amid mounting criticism of the close-door hearings, the prosecutor general’s office told the Maldives Independent that public hearings would be held in the murder trial.

“All the hearings in the case will not be closed, so there will be open hearings as well. I am not at liberty to discuss proceedings of closed hearings. However, if preliminary hearings are being closed it is usually because it involves evidence,” the prosecutor general’s spokesman Ahmed Thaufeeq said at the time.

To mark the one year anniversary of the murder activists organized a march in Malé, calling for authorities to hold public hearings. They were blocked by police. Special Ops officers tried to disperse the crowd of about 50 people and briefly detained two activists.

There is also a social media campaign – #OpenTheTrial – to put pressure on authorities.

Reporters Without Borders also joined the calls for an open trial.

“It is essential that the Yameen Rasheed murder trial hearings should be open to the public and journalists or otherwise there will inevitably be doubts about the verdict,” Daniel Bastard, the head of RSF’s Asia-Pacific desk, said.