Shiaau’s murder: State appoints lawyer for Shaahil

Ali Shaahil, a murder suspect, outside the Criminal Court on January 22, 2023. (Sun Photo/Mohamed Shathiu)

The trial of the suspect charged with the brutal murder of a young musician in an apartment in the Maldivian capital in August last year commenced at the Criminal Court on Thursday following the appointment of a lawyer to him by the state.

Shiaau Mohamed Saeed, 22, was found killed and dismembered in an apartment on the ninth floor of H. Sheereen Villa on August 6, 2022.

Ali Shaahil, 22, a local skater, was arrested from the scene of the crime.

Shaahil has been charged with five charges in the case, including murder with intent using a sharp-edged weapon, possession of pornography and using cannabis. Two of the charges have not been disclosed by the state.

The last hearing the in the case was held on January 22nd – which also marked the first hearing in the case. The court concluded the hearing early that day as Shaahil requested to proceed with the trial with a lawyer.

The law dictates that the state must appoint lawyers to individuals in cases involving major criminal offenses if the suspect does not have the personal resources to appoint a lawyer.

Thursday’s hearing in the case proceeded with the lawyer appointed to Shaahil by the state during which both sides submitted their pre-trial motions. In the next hearing, the prosecution will read the charges against Shaahil and he will be given the opportunity to respond to the charges against him.

Criminal Court, on Thursday, said the next hearing will be scheduled after providing adequate time for Shaahil and newly appointed lawyer to meet. 

The hearings in the case are held behind closed doors.

While the autopsy confirmed the injuries inflicted on Shiaau - both before and after her death - had been deliberate, and the police recovered weapons used in the murder, the investigation had suffered setbacks due to lack of a clear motive for the crime.

Police said Shaahil, while he responded to questions from investigators, refused to speak specifically about the murder.

Police later said that they had unlocked Shaahil’s phone and expected recover enough evidence from the phone to establish a motive.