The High Court, on Tuesday, overturned the decision by a magistrate court to release five suspects who were arrested in a police crackdown on extremism in Addu City last May.
Police arrested eight suspects in the operation in Addu. Though Hithadhoo Magistrate Court initially ordered all eight suspects to custody of police for 15 days, the court released five of the suspects when presented before the court for an extension to their remand on May 30.
The five suspects are:
The decision to release them was contested by the Prosecutor General’s Office with the High Court on June 1, citing conflict of judicial and legal standards.
All five are suspected of major felonies.
Abdulla Haisham, Mafthooh Saeed and Hassan Shihan Ibrahim were arrested from Addu on May 15 on suspicion of involvement in a separatist movement to spread extremism, incitement to terrorism, possession and storage of items needed to prepare IEDs, and conspiracy to harm civilians and property.
Mohamed Thasleem was arrested from Addu on May 17, on suspicion of active involvement in terrorist activities, incitement to extremism and terrorism, providing others with information on preparing IEDs, and fostering close ties with known extremists.
Iuthisam Mohamed Saeed was arrested the same day, on suspicion of involvement in Mohamed Thasleem’s suspected crimes.
Hithadhoo Magistrate Court ordered for the 5 suspects to be remanded in custody of police two times based on evidence and intel reports submitted by the police. But they were granted unconditional release when presented before the court for their third remand hearing, citing lack of evidence to warrant their detention.
High Court ruled on Tuesday that attempt to commit a crime declared on Counter-Terror Act, serving as an accessory to commit such a crime, or any involvement in such a crime are incomplete crimes by nature.
The court said that asking to commit a crime which could facilitate another crime, conspiracy to commit a crime, incitement to commit a crime, and attempt to commit a crime are all crimes in the eyes of the law, and do not need to be complete.
“Therefore, the act of terror defined under Counter-Terrorism Act must not be taken as the execution of the crime. For example, in a case submitted alleging attempt to make an IED, it is not mandatory submit evidence of them making the IED or with parts of the IED. Obtaining chemicals for that purpose, the theory of preparing [an IED], or incitement to make such a device for that purpose are also crimes,” said the court.
High Court therefore ruled the assertion by the lower court that the suspects cannot be considered to have involvement in the crime to be wrong.
PRIOR ARREST FOR ATTEMPT TO DETONATE AN IED
Iuthisam Mohamed Saeed and Mohamed Thasleem were suspected of storing chemicals and other items needed to prepare an IED in a property, and conspiracy to detonate an IED back in 2017. They were arrested by police in connection to the case, and their statements show they continue to share a relationship.
Police submitted documents they found during search of properties linked with Mafthooh Saeed and Hassan Shifan Ibrahim which suggest support for extremism as evidence against them.
Abdulla Haisham, meanwhile, has a long criminal record, stretching back to 2010. He has been a suspect in multiple crimes, including violent crimes such as assault using a deadly weapon.
Police said they found photos and videos from his personal phone which show support for acts of extremism.
Noting that terrorism is a major felony, High Court said it is clear there is sufficient evidence against Mohamed Thasleem to support the allegation against him, and some evidence linking the remaining four suspects to the allegation against them.
The court ruled their remand can be extended even if the analysis of the evidence against him is yet to be complete.
Police seized multiple electronics from the properties linked with the suspects as evidence, but the analysis report of the evidence has yet to be complete.
High Court said they find no legal basis for the lower court’s assertion for the decision to release the suspects citing lack of evidence before receiving the result of the analysis.
High Court overturned the lower court’s decision, citing the evidence against the suspects, and the fact that the alleged crime is a major felony which could threaten national security, national stability, and threaten the peace within the community and create fear.
The court, with the unanimous consensus of all three judges assigned to the case, ordered for all five suspects to be remanded in custody of police for 15 days.