The family of murdered blogger Yameen Rasheed has expressed concern over the closed hearings of the seven defendants charged with his death.
Yameen, a prominent blogger and Internet activist, was stabbed to death in April and was found with multiple stab wounds in the stairway of his apartment building in Malé. He died soon after being taken to hospital.
Prior to his murder, the 29-year-old had reported receiving multiple death threats to the police. He posted screenshots of the threats he received via text messages and on the Internet on Twitter and Facebook. His killing prompted an outpouring of grief online.
Yumna Rasheed, Yameen’s sister, told the Maldives Independent her family had previously requested to make the trials open to the public and media.
“Our main concern is not knowing what is going on inside the courtroom,” she said.
Six of the seven suspects – Ismail Haisham Rasheed, Ahmed Zihan Ismail, Ismail Rasheed, Mohamed Dhifran, Hassan Shifaz, and Hussain Ziyad – were 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.
The Prosecutor General’s office declined to press charges against an eighth suspect.
The family had inconclusive conversations with the police after Yameen’s death, Yumna said.
“The police released the statement naming the suspects just a day after we met to tell our side and what we know. We believe the police should have investigated the case further before painting a picture,” she said.
She added: “To hold closed hearings in this case, after our dealings with the police, is a big blow to the family. At no stage does it seem we’re getting realistic information.”
Yameen was a close friend of Ahmed Rilwan, the Maldives Independent journalist who was abducted and disappeared in 2014.
One defendant, Ismail Rasheed, has appealed two Criminal Court orders to extend his remand.
The trial continues.