Case against Isu and Mua dismissed; tags removed

Combined file photos of (from L-R) Ismail Abdul Raheem (Isu), 30; Ahmed Muaz (Gut Mua), 40; and Ahmed Ismail (Ahandhu), 39. (Photo/Maldives Police Service)

The Criminal Court has dismissed the terrorism charges against Ismail Abdul Raheem (Isu) and Ahmed Muaz (Gatu Mua), and ordered for the ankle monitor to be removed from their leg.

Isu and Mua, along with Ahmed Ismail (Buru Ahandhu), were arrested in June 2022 in connection to two high-profile murders; the 2014 abduction and murder of a reporter and 2017 murder of a blogger has been released from detention.

Initially ordered to jail pending the outcome of trial, Isu and Mua were both later released from jail, but were monitored with electronic tags.

On Tuesday, the Criminal Court decided that the evidence against them was insufficient to prove the charges against them, and sent the cases back to the Prosecutor General’s Office (PGO).

The court also ordered for the electronic tags to be removed from their legs.

The dismissal of the cases against Isu and Mua comes after a similar decision in the case against Ahandhu back in October.

Ahmed Rilwan Abdulla, 28, a journalist who worked for Minivan News (later renamed Maldives Independent), was last seen on August 8, 2014. He is believed to have been abducted and murdered.

Meanwhile, Yameen Rasheed, 29, a blogger and rights activist, was stabbed to death in the stairwell of his residence in Male’ City, M. Spatula, on April 23, 2017.

Isu was pressed with two counts of aiding in the commission of an act of terrorism. According to the PGO, he was pressed with the charges for stalking Rilwan and aiding in his kidnapping and murder, and stalking Yameen Rasheed and aiding in his murder.

Ahandhu was charged with conspiracy to carry out act of terrorism. According to PGO, he was pressed with the charge because he planned Rilwan’s murder, and had others murder him in accordance with the plan he made with his co-conspirators.

Meanwhile, Mua was also charged with conspiracy to carry out an act of terrorism. According to PGO, he was pressed with the charge for arranging for Yameen Rasheed to be stalked.

The murders of Rilwan and Yameen was investigated by the Deaths and Disappearances Commission (DDCom) – a presidential commission set up during the former administration.

Preliminary investigative findings by DDCom showed Rilwan was abducted and murdered. He was forced into a car while on his way to his apartment in Hulhumale’, forced on a boat registered to AA. Ukulhas, on board which he was decapitated and his body thrown overboard.

His body was never recovered

The case produced charges against only two suspects; Alif Rauf, H. Hilton, K. Male’, and Mohamed Noorddeen, Karankaage, GDh. Vaadhoo.

Both of them were acquitted.

Meanwhile, six suspects were put on trial for Yameen Rasheed's murder; Ismail Haisham Rasheed (H. Annaarumaage, K. Male'), Ahmed Zihan Ismail (M.Iraasmikge, K. Male’), Mohamed Dhifran (Simbadge, G. Dh. Gadhdhoo), Hassan Shifaz (M. Kudhehige, K. Male'), Ismail Rasheed (M. Thaaif, K. Male'), and Hussain Ziyad (M. Kolhufushi East, K. Male'.  

They were charged with murder with intent using a sharp-edged weapon.  

The court issued its ruling in the case on January 19.

Haisham and Zihan – who were accused of active involvement in the murder – were found guilty of the murder. They were issued life sentences and ordered to pay MVR 1.3 million as diya (financial compensation).

The other four suspects were acquitted.