Criminal Court, on Thursday, collected the final witness statements in the case of murdered blogger Yameen Rasheed and scheduled the trial's final hearing for February.
Yameen, an IT professional, prematurely lost his life on April 23, 2017, when he was brutally stabbed over 35 times by religious extremists in the stairwell of his home.
The state charged six individuals with first-degree murder over Yameen's death: Ismail Haisham Rasheed, Ahmed Zihan Ismail, Mohamed Dhifran, Hassan Shifaz, Thaaif Ismail Rasheed and Hussain Ziyad.
Although Criminal Court had formerly scheduled to deliver the closing statement on Thursday, the court collected the final witness statements from the defendant's side, as some hearings had to be cancelled in addition to some witnesses refusing to attend court.
The witness provided by Ahmed Zihan Ismail did not attend Thursday's hearing. When questioned by the judge, Zihan stated that he no longer wanted to consider the witness' statement. Some defendants had previously let go of their witnesses as well, citing that they did not want to collect their statements.
Therefore, Judge Ali Rasheed announced that all the defendants' witness statements have now been collected, and the trial's closing statement will be delivered in the next hearing after discussing the evidence.
However, Thaaif Ismail Rasheed's lawyer Maumoon Hameed requested the aforementioned to be split into two hearings. According to Maumoon, it would also be a challenge to discuss the evidence since he has yet to receive the witness statements.
Judge Ali Rasheed clarified that the statements were not released as the witnesses have yet to sign them, adding that a secret witness can only be summoned to court through the Prosecutor Generals's (PG) Office.
The judge assured that witness statements will be provided to the lawyers before the hearing scheduled for February 23 to discuss the evidence.
Shortly afterwards, the hearing for the closing statement is set to be held on February 27. However, the judge did not announce a date to deliver the verdict.