Rilwan and Yameen’s murders: DDCom seeks to share redacted reports with families

Protestors rally demanding for justice for Ahmed Rilwan Abdulla on August 8, 2017. (File Photo/Sun/Mohamed Afrah)

The Deaths and Disappearances Commission (DDCom) announced on Tuesday that it is seeking to share redacted reports on two most high-profile murders it investigated – the 2014 abduction and murder of a reporter and 2017 murder of a blogger – with the families of the victims.

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.

The murders were two of the most high-profile cases investigated by the DDCom, a commission that was set up by former President Ibrahim Mohamed Solih to investigate mysterious murders and enforced disappearances.

In a statement on Tuesday, DDCom said it is aware that the families of Rilwan and Yameen are keen to access the commission’s official reports on the cases.

The commission noted that a significant amount of the material held in the reports is highly sensitive and confidential, and that the Presidential Commissions Act stipulates that all reports should be sent to the president.

DDCom stressed that it is legally bound to comply with this.

However, the commission said it intends to complete redacted reports by May 31, so that the victims’ families can access important information about the cases.

The commission said it will recommend to President Dr. Mohamed Muizzu to release the redacted reports.

The commission also added it is prepared to hand over all its records of permanent value to the President’s Office, and that the material will be accompanied by guidelines and procedures “regarding how to ensure its security, confidentiality, but also accessibility for future use.”

DDCom said it is  “very keen to be fully transparent” and also wishes to highlight “the exceptional and extensive lengths the commission, and partner agencies including international ones, have gone to deliver on the commission’s mandate to conduct independent, impartial and credible investigations.”

The commission said it had had always focused on justice and accountability with a victim-centered approach, and an aspiration to increase trust and confidence with the public, not just around the work of the commission, but also the permanent institutions that supported it.

The commission said it went to “significant lengths to meeting with the Ahmed Rilwan Abdullah and Yameen Rasheed families and communicating developments on a regular basis, and making the commission members available whenever requested.”

“The commission recognizes the importance of maintaining a close and positive relationship with the families as the commission’s priority has always been seeking justice for their lost loved ones,” reads the statement.

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, 2022.

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.