Indian Woman Held Without Trial in Maldives

Indian Woman Held Without Trial in Maldives

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Male:  An Indian woman, imprisoned on charges of murdering her 10-month-old child and also attempting suicide, has been awaiting trial for the past four-and-half years, media reports here said.

Rubeena Buruhanudeen, 30, who is being held at Maldives' Dhoonidhoo detention centre, has been awaiting sentencing since late August 2010, Minivan News reported citing a source close to the case.

Rubeena confessed to the killing and has since said that she was heavily medicated at the time of her child's death, with only a vague recollection of events, the report added.

"She is very distressed and depressed," said the source. "When the prospect of receiving the death penalty was raised with her, she said she would prefer it to her current situation."

"(Waiting) four years for a trial is unacceptable," the source added, noting that the case was passed to the Human Rights Commission of Maldives.

Rubeena's legal team has requested a new hearing before sentencing, in order to make a case for diminished responsibility.

The source confirmed media reports that Rubeena was married to Hassan Jabir, 16 years her senior, in 2008.

The case has also sparked debate in India over the practice of poor girls from the state of Kerala being sold off to foreign nationals in return for money.

After moving to the Maldives with her husband, who is a clerk in the local court, the marriage became troubled, and Rubeena reportedly started living in a disused tea shop with her child by 2010.

Rubeena had alleged that she was having trouble obtaining money to feed her child, when she attempted suicide by consuming a heavy dose of drugs and was later informed of her child's death by medical staff.

After being held in Dhoonidhoo Detention Centre since June 2010, Rubeena was taken to Male to appear in court in May, 2013, only to discover that she was to appear in the family court for the conclusion of her husband's divorce proceedings.

Her case was brought to the attention of Maldivian non-governmental organization (NGO) Voice of Women. Her case has been taken up on a pro bono basis by a local law firm.

The Minivan News source explained that the criminal court heard from neither the accused woman's husband nor the doctor who had examined the child's body.

Officials from the Indian High Commission confirmed that they were aware of Rubeena's case.

The Minivan News source explained that Rubeena's extradition to India would be considered once she was sentenced.

The Extradition Act has been ratified by Maldives President Abdulla Yameen. 

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