Crime Legal

Rilwan’s family concerned with direction of abduction trial

The state has been criticised for casting doubt over strong DNA evidence in the trial of abducted journalist Ahmed Rilwan.

A police forensic expert told the criminal court last week about DNA evidence found inside a car owned by one of the defendants.

A hair matched the DNA of Rilwan’s mother, but the prosecution was unwilling to say it belonged to the abducted journalist and said it could potentially belong to his sisters’ children.

Rilwan’s sister Mariyam Shehenaz told the Maldives Independent that the state did not attempt to prove the DNA belonged to Rilwan in a way that would prosecute the defendants.

“The way they are going with the proceedings, it sometimes feels like they’re trying to pin the evidence to someone else in the family [as if they were in the car],” she said.

“But we have only one missing person from the family, and that’s Rilwan.”

Alif Rauf and Mohamed Nooradeen are accused of forcing Rilwan into a car at knifepoint outside his apartment building in Hulhumalé in August 2014. Both were arrested shortly after his disappearance but were freed two months later.

Forensic expert Madheeh Mohamed Saleem told the court the hair could not be said with certainty to belong to Rilwan, media outlets reported, despite it matching the MDNA of Rilwan’s mother.

“MDNA is used in many jurisdictions especially for missing persons cases as they have very little evidence to go by,” human rights lawyer Mushfiq Mohamed told the Maldives Independent.

The DNA evidence was examined in Thai and Vietnamese laboratories. But the forensic expert summoned to court was not one who had handled the tests, Mushfiq added.

He called the legal proceedings a “sham trial to ensure perpetrators evade punishment.”

Shehenaz also said police had not discussed the DNA evidence with any family member.

“They haven’t said anything to anyone. They haven’t tried taking anyone else’s DNA except my father and mother’s.

“We are not happy with any of the procedures. But we have nowhere to go, and no one to turn to,” she added.

Rauf and Nooradeen remain free despite facing terrorism charges.

A third suspect charged over the abduction left for Syria after his release from custody in September 2014, according to police. His family claim he is dead.

Rilwan’s family has previously accused the state of involvement in his disappearance, alleging police negligence in investigating the case.

They claim police failed to initiate a search when Rilwan’s neighbours reported a man being forced into a car at knifepoint outside his apartment building, and that police allowed suspects arrested over the abduction to leave the country following their release.

The government, however, has denied involvement.

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Source URL:  Maldives Independent

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