Next hearing in police speedboat arson case scheduled for January 19

The next hearing in the case involving the arson of a police speedboat in March 2020 will be on January 19.

A hearing for the two people charged with terrorism, in connection with the arson of a police speedboat in March 2020, was held in the criminal court on Thursday.

Terrorism charges have been brought against Moosa Inas from Kalhaidhoo Island in Laamu Atoll and Abdul Latheef Ibrahim from Gan Island in the same atoll.

The judge presiding over the trial is Judge Sofhath Habeeb.

The first hearing concerned the charges against Inas, for carrying out an act of terrorism.

During Thursday’s hearing, the bench of judges considered a state request to review the court order. As such, the public prosecutor disclosed that an interim examination will not be required following the amendment to the laws, as the suspect was arrested under the Prevention of Terrorism Act.

The defense attorney responded by stating that the remand should be reviewed in accordance with the suspect’s remand status.

Asked about the state’s position regarding the pretrial detention of suspects in such terrorism-related cases, the district attorney revealed that the state does not believe the pretrial detention of these suspects should be reconsidered.

As the defendant faces charges of attempting to commit an act of terrorism, the presiding judge revealed that an interim review could not be submitted. However, if an interim review is requested due to changed circumstances, it will proceed.

During the hearing, Inas said he had not yet received proper treatment for the injuries he suffered from being tortured by police officers while in pretrial detention. The presiding judge revealed that they had received a letter stating that Inas had revealed that he had been tortured. Thereupon, the judge said that they could order the Maldives Correctional Service (MCS) to provide the rights of medical treatment to the suspect and they would investigate the matter.

Inas was asked to submit a written letter if he had any complaints due to his medical condition. The court will then seek a word from the prison authority and refer the case to the Human Rights Commission of the Maldives (HRCM) if any issues come to their attention.

The suspect allegedly claimed that the facility he is being remanded to was not fit to hold prisoners and that he had not yet received proper treatment for his knee injuries. The presiding judge cited the prison authority as revealing that the required steps had been taken in relation to the suspect’s complaints and claims.

With that, the presiding judge has scheduled another hearing for January 19, where a decision will be made on pre-trial submissions.

Inas was found guilty of participating in the 2007 Sultan Park bombing, for which he also served time.

That being said, state prosecutors previously said there was sufficient evidence to prove the charges currently against him, adding that he was remanded in custody for public safety as he was originally of the arson attack on police vessels which caused casualties to the state and plunged the public into fear.

Charges have been brought against the two Maldivian men under the Anti-Terrorism Act and they face a prison term of 20 to 25 years if found guilty.

Police earlier discovered material such as videos and documents supporting and promoting extremism in hard drives confiscated at the investigation stage at the residence of one of the suspects. Material found on the hard drives supported the Islamic State (ISIS) and al-Qaeda, the attorney general’s office said.

PGO revealed that Abdul Latheef confessed to obstructing law enforcement by destroying evidence and was sentenced to one year and 12 days in prison by Gan Magistrate Court on July 6, 2020.

The arson attack took place on March 22, 2020, and Islamic State had taken responsibility for the fire which burned five boats moored at Mahibadhoo Port to crisp. It came after police revealed the blaze was ‘considered a terrorist attack‘, citing similarities to other such attacks on a sea ambulance as well as police and council speedboats .

A report released earlier by the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) said that the Islamic State is working in the Maldives “with a network of supporters”.

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