High Court overturns release of alleged child rapist

Anees Hilmy, Silsilaage, HA. Baarah.

The High Court has overturned the decision by the Criminal Court to release a man who was jailed pending the outcome of his trial for raping an 11-year-old girl in a guesthouse in Male’ City.

Anees Hilmy, from Silsilaage in HA. Baarah, was arrested for taking an 11-year-old girl to a guesthouse in Male’ City and raping her.

The rape was reported to the police on June 10, 2020, and Anees was arrested from his home in connection to the case on June 12, 2020.

After police opened an investigation into the case, they found evidence Anees had groomed the victim prior to the rape.

He was jailed pending the outcome of his trial on June 20, 2020.

However, the Criminal Court ordered his release from jail to home arrest in late February, after he filed a motion to review his detention.

The Prosecutor General’s Office subsequently appealed the decision with the High Court, which issued its judgement in the case on Sunday.

Anees Hilmy, Silsilaage, H. A. Baarah. (Photo/Maldives Police Service)

The High Court ruled that if it is state policy to transfer defendants in pre-trial detention to home arrest, it must be done in accordance with legal policies.

There are no legal grounds to transfer a defendant to house arrest without such a policy, found the court.

The court also found there must be an effective monitoring system in place before such a defendant is released from jail.

It delivering its judgement, the High Court said that the high number of suspects in pre-trial detention is one of the biggest challenges facing the Maldives criminal justice system.

“But the prolonged trial due to failure of the state to provide the resources needed to expedite trials, and the resultant prolonged detention period does not constitute grounds for the release of suspects,” said the court in its judgement.

The High Court overturned the decision to transfer Anees to house arrest, and ordered him to be held in a remand jail until the Criminal Court makes a decision on his detention within the next seven days.

On July 11, 2020, the Prosecutor General’s Office filed three charges against Anees with the Criminal Court; deliberately touching a child’s body with sexual intent under Article 3 of the Special Provisions Act to Deal with Child Sex Offenders – which carries a prison sentence of 10 to 14 years, grooming a child for sex under Article 123 of Child Rights Protection Act – which carries a prison sentence of 10 years, and possession of pornography under Article 622 of the Penal Code – which carries a minimum sentence of one month and six days in prison.

He was convicted of possession of pornography on March 29, 2022, but remains on trial for the other charges against him.