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Commission seeks charges against ex-Islamic Minister in Afrasheem case

Fathmath Shaahunaz
04 December 2019, MVT 13:02
Former Islamic Minister Dr Mohamed Shaheem Ali Saeed (L) and murdered religious scholar and former MP Dr Afrasheem Ali. IMAGE/MIHAARU
Fathmath Shaahunaz
04 December 2019, MVT 13:02

The Presidential Commission on Investigation of Murders and Enforced Disappearances announced Wednesday that they are seeking charges against former Minister of Islamic Affairs Dr Mohamed Shaheem Ali Saeed, in connection with the murder of religious scholar and former Ungoofaaru MP, Dr Afrasheem Ali.

The commission stated that they requested the Prosecutor General's Office to charge the former minister over providing false information during the investigation and attempting to obstruct the probe.

The commission's report on its investigation revealed discrepancies between Dr Shaheem's statement regarding a television programme that Dr Afrasheem was scheduled to appear on the night he was killed and a number of text messages exchanged between the two.

However, Shaheem has refuted the accusation and maintained that his statement to the commission was truthful.

The commission had questioned Shaheem on how Afrasheem was invited to appear on the Islamic television programme 'Islamee Dhiriulhun', which was aired on state media Television Maldives (TVM). According to Shaheem, he arranged Afrasheem's appearance upon the latter's request.

While the commission's report included the text messages sent between them, it further disclosed Shaheem as being the one to invite Afrasheem on the show. The report also stated that Shaheem was aware of the reason Afrasheem wished to appear on the show; to issue a public apology regarding some comments he had made previously and ascertain his repentance. The text messages further revealed that Shaheem offered to hold a press conference at the Islamic Ministry should the TV appearance fall through, so that Afrasheem could move ahead with his intended apology.

Nevertheless, Shaheem had stated that it was Afrasheem that requested an opportunity to appear on the show and for him to act as a mediator in differences of opinion between Afrasheem and other religious scholars. Shaheem stated that Afrasheem's decision to trust him with such a task compelled him to acquiesce and help seek a solution, particularly because Afrasheem was highly educated and, he felt, deserving of such an opportunity.

Dr Shaheem further revealed that the commission had questioned him regarding a text message he received, in which an unknown sender proclaimed to "love Dr Afrasheem for the sake of Allah" should the scholar make a public repentance on media.

"[The commission] asked me who sent that message. To be honest, that message only came to my attention once the commission pointed it out. I told them I didn't remember that message nor who sent it", said Dr Shaheem.

He further noted that the message was sent seven years ago and that he requested the commission's president, Husnu al-Suood, to find out the sender through the local telecom company, Dhiraagu.

Dr Shaheem had served as the Islamic Minister during the brief tenure of former President Mohamed Waheed.

Meanwhile, the commission has also requested the PG Office to charge the culprits behind the murders of Dr Afrasheem, satirical blogger Yameen Rasheed, and missing journalist Ahmed Rilwan.

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