Supreme Court overturns decision to release terror suspect Ameen

Mohamed Ameen attends his hearing at the Supreme Court on October 3, 2021.

The Supreme Court, on Sunday, overturned the decision by the High Court to dismiss the terrorism charges raised against Mohamed Ameen, Kariyya Villa, Maadhandu, Fuvahmulah City – the man Police believe to be the leader of the Maldivian faction of the international terror network, Islamic State.

Ameen’s lawyers had appealed the charges against him to the High Court – while the case was proceeding at the Criminal Court, with Ameen remanded in custody pending outcome of the trial. High Court had ruled in favor of Ameen – dismissing the charges against him and ordering his release on September 16.

In today’s Supreme Court hearing, the three-judge bench presiding over the case had unanimously agreed to overturn High Court’s decision.

Justice Husnu Al Suood had read out his opinion in today’s hearing – which was assented by the remaining two members on the bench; Chief Justice Ahmed Muthasim Adnan, who heads the bench, and Justice Aisha Shujoon Mohamed.

High Court had dismissed the charges against Ameen citing that they were filed after the expiration of the statute of limitation stipulated in the Criminal Procedure Code.  Charges must be filed against suspects in criminal cases within 30 days according to the Criminal Procedure Code – however, Ameen was charged after 30 days had exceeded. In their appeal, the State said that charges were filed within the 45-day period prescribed in the Anti-Terrorism Act.

The judges of Supreme Court however said that although a terror suspect may be detained under the Criminal Procedure Code – the Anti-Terrorism Act will apply to them in their prosecution, thus allowing charges to be filed within the time period prescribed in the Act.

Even though High Court had dismissed the charges against Ameen, they issued a MoniCon order against Ameen just days after, barring him from traveling outside of Male’ City.

The order read that Ameen will not be allowed to travel outside of Male’ City without authorization from the Police. In addition to this – he will also not be able to leave his home from 18:00 in the evening to 06:00 in the morning.

Ameen is suspected of involvement in the Sultan’s Park bombing which injured a dozen tourists in 2007. He fled the country after the bombing, prompting an Interpol red notice against him.

He was located in neighboring Sri Lanka and brought to Maldives in 2012 but released by the court after two months of detainment.

He was rearrested in 2019 – under suspicion of spreading radical extremist ideologies and recruiting and dispatching people for jihad in other countries. Ameen was transferred to house arrest in February this year – due to complaints of not receiving adequate medical care the opportunity to exercise outside of his jail cell.

US Department of Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control has Ameen flagged as a senior operative of IS, making him the first Maldivian national to be named on the OFAC’s terror list.

According to the US, Ameen was actively engaged in leading IS recruitment in Maldives. He is also accused of assisting the IS branch in Afghanistan and Pakistan by providing funding, assists and technological support.

He is the first person to be arrested and charged under the revised Anti-Terrorism Act.