Third man in custody dies while awaiting trial

Third man in custody dies while awaiting trial
November 08 18:38 2016

A 28-year old man awaiting trial at a high security prison died early Tuesday morning, marking the third death of a man held in state care this year.

Hussain Zareer reportedly died at the Indhira Gandhi Memorial Hospital at 4:40am, nearly 24 hours after he was brought to the capital city for medical care, according to a spokesman from the Maldives Correctional Services.

The official declined to comment on the cause of death or the charges against Zareer.

The IGMH spokesman also refused to comment, citing an on-going investigation.

Zareer was brought to the high security prison at Maafushi Island on January 28.

A police spokeswoman said she did not have information on when or why Zareer was first arrested. His is the third death of a man awaiting trial this year.

In September, a 57-year-old man died while being held in pre-trial detention at a remand centre in Malé.

Adam Ali, detained on chares of child abuse, fainted around 8:15am and was rushed to the IGMH, where he was pronounced dead by doctors.

According to newspaper Mihaaru, Ali had been awaiting trial for nearly two years. He was arrested from Fenfushi in Alif Dhaalu Atoll, and held at a police station on the island of Mahibadhoo for more than a year. He was transferred to a police remand facility on Dhoonidhoo Island in November 2015, and later to a prison in Malé in January 2016.

Prosecutors pressed charges against Ali at the Fenfushi magistrate court in December 2015, but hearings were never held with prison authorities refusing to take Ali to his home island for trial, defence lawyers told the paper.

In late August, a 55-year-old man was reported to have died en route to the hospital in Malé from a police remand facility on the island of Dhoonidhoo, ten minutes by speedboat from the capital.

Moosa Naeem was buried after the family decided not to ask for a postmortem.

The death prompted allegations on social media of Naseem being denied regular health checkups. He was reportedly taking medication for a heart disease.

The watchdog bodies, Human Rights Commission and National Integrity Commission, said they have launched inquiries, but are yet to share findings with the public.

Recent custodial deaths in Maldives include the death of a 23-year-old who died of apparent natural causes at the Maafushi jail in May 2014. He had complained of chest pains before his death.

In 2014, Ibrahim Azar died from severe injuries inflicted by his cell mates. According to the prisons authority, Azar had requested to be transferred from his cell more than an hour before the assault.

Other high-profile custodial deaths include that of Hussain Solah, who was found dead in Malé’s lagoon in 2007, and of 19-year-old Evan Naseem, who was tortured to death by prison guards in 2003.

Evan’s murder triggered riots and fuelled a pro-democracy movement that unseated former President Maumoon Abdul Gayoom after 30 years in power.