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Mary's Murder: Foreign policy delaying foreign witness statements, defense voices concerns

Prosecutors are facing difficulties collecting foreign witness statements from those who live abroad, leading to concerns raised by defense lawyers in Mary's murder case.

Ameera Osmanagic
10 June 2024, MVT 16:24
Late Mary Grace (L) and her Husband Marvin (R) who is accused of her murder --
Ameera Osmanagic
10 June 2024, MVT 16:24

The defence lawyers in the case of Filipino nurse Mary Grace Oned Pineda's murder voiced concerns over delays in collecting foreign witness statements due to new foreign policies at Criminal Court today.

Mary's husband Marvin S. Y. Vargas and Haleemath Lamha - both nurses at the same hospital - stand charged with the murder of Mary in October of 2021. While Marvin is charged with murder with intent, Lamha is accused of being an accomplice.

According to prosecution, Marvin and Lamha were having an affair at the time, and plotted and executed Mary's murder. Lamha is also charged with possession of medication which can only be used within hospital premises.

At present, there are 15 witness statements that are yet to be collected, including statements from the doctors who prepared important documents in the case. The state explained that the delay is due to the doctors being Indian citizens who now reside in the country. According to new policies currently in effect, prosecution will be required to formally get approval from the Indian government prior to collecting the statements.

This is contrary to previous practice where witnesses could be brought to Maldivian embassies in foreign countries via the Maldivian Foreign Ministry without needing additional approvals from the foreign government.

In light of this, the Maldivian Foreign Ministry is working with its international counterparts to make the necessary arrangements, prosecution further explained.

In response, Lamha's lawyers voiced concern over her extended remand due to these delays, and highlighted that prosecution has the option to fly the witnesses to the Maldives to collect their statements if there are issues in presenting the witnesses to the embassy.

However, two nurses who worked with Mary and Marvin at Indira Gandhi Memorial Hospital (IGMH) did provide witness statements at the court today. Both claimed that they saw Mary's body and that her face was blue when they went to the hospital upon hearing the news of her death.

The nurses further detailed that they saw Marvin at the hospital and one of them highlighted that they noticed Marvin's t-shirt was wet at the time.

The state also decided against collecting statements from four of the remaining witnesses, including he police officer who prepared the DNA report, the technician who performed Mary's CT scan, the technician who prepared Mary's blood report, and Mary's mother.

This decision is based on the belief that their statements would not lead to proving anything in the case and because some of them are out of the country, said prosecutors.

Presiding Justice Hussain Faaiz Rashaad said that he would work on concluding the statement collection phase of the trial during next month.

At this time, both Marvin and Lamha are held in remand pending the outcome of their trials.

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