The Criminal Court on Sunday freed three Maldivian men who were caught at the Turkish border while en route to join the Syrian civil war.
The state had charged Ahmed Latheef from Maamendhoo in Laamu atoll, Ahmed Suhail Moosa from Gahdhoo in Gaafu Dhaalu atoll and Munawar Abdullah from Gaadhiffushi in Thaa atoll for crossing the Turkey-Syria border in an attempt to fight alongside the extremist insurgents in Syria.
This is the first time the state officially charged individuals for joining a foreign conflict.
However, the Criminal Court had freed the three individuals after the defendants presented the court with eight witnesses who all testified that they were in Turkey for business purposes.
Further, the court had not found any evidence to prove that the three men had entered Syria.
The court also stated that there were discrepancies in the testimonials that were submitted by the state, and that it had not provided the court with any documents to prove that the three men were held by Turkish authorities.
The court had acknowledged that there was some evidence to prove that the three man had engaged in some conversations that “deviates from true Islamic ideals;” however, the court stated that it was not enough to prove that the three men’s motive in departing to Turkey was to join the war in Syria.
The three men were facing imprisonment charges for 17 – 20 years under the Terrorism Act, had they been found guilty.
Mihaaru is aware that the Criminal Court is pursuing the cases of several Maldivian nationals who were caught attempting to flee to Syria.
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