Ministry of Home Affairs’ Executive Coordinator Mohamed Shakeeb, who is charged with negligence over the murder of Mohamed Ibthihaal of Vaavu atoll Raakeedhoo island, declared in the Criminal Court on Thursday that he had been unaware that the three-year old boy was being abused before he was violently beaten to death by his mother.
Shakeeb had been a coordinator at the Ministry of Gender and Family at the time of Ibthihaal’s death, and was recently transferred to the Home Ministry. He is one of five state employees charged with negligence over failure to take necessary legal action after reports of the child abuse case were filed at the Gender Ministry’s Children’s Services Centre in December 2014. Ibthihaal’s death had occurred the next month on January 28 after severe abuse again.
Speaking at Thursdsay’s hearing, Shakeeb’s lawyer declared that his client had not received any information regarding Ibthihaal’s case. He elaborated that, according to the Gender Ministry’s framework, Shakeeb was not in a position to be informed of child abuse cases.
Noting that Shakeeb had been a recipient of the ministry’s best employee award, his lawyer stated that Human Rights Commission of Maldives (HRCM) had not informed Shakeeb of his charges during the stage of investigation. He had also been brought under investigation after being told that they only needed his statement.
HRCM had attempted to take another statement from Shakeeb even after the case was forwarded to the court, said his lawyer as he declared that charges cannot be pressed before the investigation is over.
The lawyer had also raised questions over other points of Shakeeb’s charges. He noted that Subject 25 of the protection of children’s rights legislation referred in Shakeeb’s charges pertains to a law that states that it is the obligation of each and every citizen to protect the rights of children. Shakeeb’s lawyer stated that, in that sense, all the island councillors and residents of Raakeedhoo must also be held accountable.
In response, Deputy Prosecutor General Mariyam Nihaayath stated that the lawyer’s statement should encompass all the charges against his client instead of focussing on one subject. Adding that a defendant’s aptness and reputation in their place of work have little relation to criminal charges, she reiterated that Shakeeb is being prosecuted for his negligence in carrying out his lawful mandate.
In addition to Shakeeb, the hearing of Mohamed Rasheed, another employee of the Gender Ministry, was also scheduled for Thursday, but it was postponed as the court granted him another extension of ten days to find a lawyer.
The other three state employees being charged over negligence are Lisaan Aboobakr of Baa atoll Eydhafushi island, the acting Commander of Maldives Police Northern Station designated to Vaavu atoll; Aminatha Shiyaza of Vaavu atoll Fulidhoo island, a staff of the Ministry of Gender and Family’s Children’s Services Centre at the time of the case; and Ahmed Shuzadh of Gaafu Dhaal atoll Fiyori island, a staff of the Ministry of Gender and Family’s Children’s Services Centre at the time of the case.
Meanwhile, the trials of Ibthihaal’s mother Afiya Mohamed are still ongoing. She has admitted several times in court to the abuse and admitted to her charges of first degree murder with a gruesomely detail confession, describing how she had strangled, punched and kicked her three-year-old sleeping child when she came home on that fateful day. Afiya had said she hated her son as he was born out of wedlock.