Court orders retrial for 3 acquitted in Arham’s murder

Combined photos of (from L-R) Mohamed Sufiyan, Athif Rasheed, and Mansoor Yoosuf.

The High Court has ordered retrials for three people acquitted of the 2012 murder of a 16-year-old student in Male’ City.

Mohamed Arham was stabbed to death at the Lorenzo Park in Male’ on the night of May 21, 2012.

Police officers on patrol found ninth grader’s body in a pool of blood with multiple stab wounds in the neck, back and chest at the park at around 06:00 am, the next day.

Four people were charged with murder with intent.

In September 2016, Mohamed Visam was found guilty, while the three others - Mohamed Sufiyan, Mansoor Yoosuf and Athif Rasheed – were acquitted, with the Criminal Court citing insufficient evidence.

Their acquittal was appealed by the state with the High Court, which delivered its judgement on Monday.

The state had argued that while Visam was convicted based on witness testimony, the same witnesses had also testified to Sufiyan, Mansoor and Athif’s involvement in the murder.

The state argued that video reports, witnesses and other evidence submitted at trial established their involvement in the murder, and asked the High Court to declare them guilty.

The evidence submitted by the state at trial includes testimonies of five secret witnesses, CCTV footage, and video analysis reports.

The witnesses testified to seeing the murder from different vantage points, and said all four were involved.

Sufiyan and Mansoor were positively identified on video purchasing two knifes at dawn on May 21, 2012.

The state also said that Athif, Sufiyan, Mansoor and another five people were seen together on the night of Arham’s murder.

The appeal was heard by a bench of three judges. Judge Hussain Mazeed, who led the bench, noted that the Criminal Court acquitted the three defendants citing lack of sufficient witnesses, but did not cite any other point or reference anything else.

“….and while the state submitted multiple witnesses and evidences to prove the three defendants’ involvement in the crime, the report does not say how the evidence was reviewed to establish the facts related to them, how the evidence was judged, and the legal reasoning behind the decision,” said Mazeed.

“The judge’s assertion alone that witness testimony is insufficient to prove guilt beyond reasonable doubt is insufficient, given the submission of witnesses and evidence to prove the charge.”

He said that a fair trial requires referencing evidence and witness testimony, evaluation of evidence, establishment of facts and application of the law.

But the Criminal Court failed to do this, he said.

The bench – composed on Mazeed, Mohamed Faisal and Mohamed Niyaz - unanimously ruled to overturn Athif, Sufiyan and Mansoor’s acquittal, and retry the case based on the High Court’s observations.