The Supreme Court upheld Monday a third death sentence since the current administration lifted a six-decade moratorium on capital punishment in 2014.
The apex court upheld the conviction of Mohamed Nabeel on the murder of an 18-year-old man in March 2009. The full bench of the Supreme Court ruled that the accused was found guilty of murder beyond any doubt.
The criminal court had sentenced Nabeel to death as all of the victim’s heirs asked for the death penalty. Under Maldivian law and Islamic sharia, the principle of qisas or retaliation in kind allows the family to demand the death penalty, ask for blood money, or pardon the killer.
The family will be consulted again before the death sentence is enforced.
The case was submitted for review by the state as regulations enacted in April 2014 for implementing the death penalty require a final judgment from the apex court.
Before the judgment was delivered Monday evening, the court opened in the early hours of Monday morning to quash a stay order by the High Court halting imminent executions.
Nabeel was accused of throwing a box cutter at the victim, who was alleged to have sexually harassed his sister. The blade penetrated Abdulla Farhad’s lungs, caused internal bleeding and led to his death, according to doctors.
During the police interrogation, Nabeel, who did not have legal representation, confessed to throwing the blade at Farhad. His 16-year-old sister also said she had seen him throw the blade.
However, in court, both Nabeel and his sister retracted their confession. Nabeel’s lawyer said he was coerced into confessing.
But the apex court’s judgment noted that the confession was also corroborated by witness testimony. Despite Nabeel’s retraction, the court said the confession is valid as it was offered freely.
Nabeel had said that he signed the confession statement without properly reading it, but the court said video footage of the interrogation shows no sign of coercion.
The court also noted that Nabeel had not appealed the High Court’s decision to uphold his death sentence, which it said was proof that he accepted the judgment.
Four of Nabeel’s accomplices were reportedly sentenced to four years in jail in 2010 on charges of causing loss of public order at an unlawful gathering. A minor involved in the incident was jailed by the juvenile court for eight months.
A group led by Nabeel was alleged to have assaulted Farhad in a public park. A box cutter was thrown at him when he ran free of the assailants.
Nabeel joins two other young men, Hussain Humam and Ahmed Murrath, awaiting imminent execution by lethal injection or hanging.
The government appears determined to go ahead with the Maldives’ first executions since 1953 despite mounting international pressure.
President Abdulla Yameen declared earlier this month that his administration will not baulk at enforcing the death penalty, claiming it is necessary for public safety.