MALE, MALDIVES - A life sentence for G. Irufa Ahmed Naushad, previously convicted in the murder case of Hassan Abu-bakur, has been commuted by Presidential pardon, sparking a new wave of public controversy over the administration's exercise of its clemency power.
Naushad, together with L. Isdhoo Avalast Mohamed Faisal, was convicted and sentenced to life imprisonment for their roles in the 2012 killing of Hassan Abu-bakur of Noonu Maafaaru. Naushad is a step grandson of the victim, further deepening the tragedy.
President Solih, abusing his power to pardon and commute sentences, released Naushad, deducting a significant portion of his sentence. The circumstances surrounding this decision are currently under intense public scrutiny.
The High Court had previously taken suo motu cognisance of an appeal lodged by Naushad and Faisal, challenging their life sentences. In response, the court maintained that there was no merit to modify the sentences awarded by the trial court.
In light of these events, The Maldives Journal has exercised its rights under the Right to Information (RTI) Act to request details from the President's Office about convicts of serious crimes who have received Presidential pardons and have been released.
However, the President's Office has declined to disclose this information. The opacity of these proceedings has provoked significant public debate, particularly in light of revelations from the last party primaries. A previously convicted drug dealer, who had been serving a life sentence for drug peddling, was found to have been similarly released.
With this recent release, critics are calling into question the use of Presidential pardons, especially for serious crimes such as murder and drug trafficking. The concern is centered around transparency in decision-making and the broader impact on societal safety and justice. As this debate continues, the call for a more accountable process regarding such significant decisions grows ever louder.