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Maldives death penalty delays will be resolved by October 8



Delays in carrying out the death penalty due will be resolved by October 8, the home minister has said, despite international condemnation about the country resuming executions.

The Maldives in 2014 ended a six-decade moratorium on capital punishment, with President Abdulla Yameen previously declaring the island nation would be ready for executions last month.

“By God’s will…when the Supreme Court concludes [cases] to the point where the death penalty can be enforced, our mechanisms and arrangements will be complete enough to do it with the advice of the Islamic council and the word of the heirs.”

The death penalty can only be carried out should all of the murder victim’s immediate relatives (heirs) choose to take the life of a convicted killer under the Islamic principle of Qisas (retaliation in kind).

Although there had been delays, Home Minister Ahmed Azleen said the technical issues leading to the delays were now resolved, Sun Online reported Saturday.

“The work is almost complete. [However] building the place where the executions will be carried out, and carrying out the death penalty are two different things,” he said.

Death penalty regulations specify methods of execution as lethal injection and hanging.

Neither the Maldives Correctional Services nor the Home Minister was able to provide details about the ‘mechanism of execution’ when contacted by the Maldives Independent.

However, executions may take a while to resume as there are legal procedures that need to take place beforehand.

The rules state the president is required to order the execution within three days of a committee comprising of the chief prosecutor, the commissioner of prisons and the chief justice sign a document endorsing the death sentence.

The execution must take place within seven days of the order. The heirs of the victim are given a last opportunity to make their wishes known on the day of the execution.

Prosecutor General Aishath Bisham told the Maldives Independent Tuesday the three-person committee has not started work.

Rumours of imminent executions in the Maldives have led to international condemnation including from philanthropist Richard Branson, Indian politician Sashi Tharoor as well as the Islamic scholar Tariq Ramadan.

In July last year, the UN Human Rights Committee asked the government to halt the execution of Hussain Humam Ahmed pending the outcome of a review of his case. The 22-year-old was found guilty of murdering parliamentarian Dr Afrasheem Ali in October 2012.

Dr Afrasheem’s heirs have requested Humam’s execution be delayed until the high profile murder is solved. The 22-year-old may prove to be key in identifying the financiers of the brutal killing, they said.

According to Amnesty, the UN body issued the same requests last month in the cases of the two other men, Ahmed Murrath and Mohamed Nabeel, who are also facing execution.

Agnes Callamard, the UN Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions urged the government to maintain the de facto moratorium on the death penalty, calling the resumption of executions “a great setback for the country and the entire region”.

International human rights groups Amnesty International and Reprieve, in a petition against the death penalty in the Maldives said Yameen was putting the country “on the wrong side of history” by this “reckless course of action”.