A Sri Lankan who has been detained in the Maldives without a trial date since September 2016 is losing his eyesight, has no access to his lawyer and was forced to fast during Ramadan despite being Buddhist, Amnesty International has said.
Lahiru Manikkaduara, who is in the high-security Maafushi prison, was detained on the charge of “knowingly taking part in a conspiracy to murder the Maldives President” Abdulla Yameen.
His remand hearings and interrogations were conducted in Dhivehi, which he does not speak, and he was not given legal aid.
Manikkaduara is sharing a cell with six others in a space designed for two, Amnesty said last month, and prison authorities were breaking Maldivian and international law by not allowing him exercise or fresh air.
“Lahiru Manikkuadura is not allowed outside of his cell and has started to lose his eyesight,” Amnesty said. “A Buddhist, he has not been allowed to practice his faith and has been coerced into following Islamic practices, including fasting for the month of Ramadan.”
It condemned the “deplorable” treatment of Manikkuadura who, it said, was in the Maldives for a job as a driver that fell through.
The job had been arranged by another Sri Lankan who was in contact with a group close to the ex-vice president Ahmed Adeeb, who was convicted of plotting to assassinate the president using a bomb on the presidential speedboat, according to Amnesty.
At the time Sri Lankan media reported that Manikkuaduara was a dry fish seller. Another media outlet, citing the defence ministry, said he was not attached to the defence ministry.
His arrest, along with the expulsion of a Maldivian social media activist from Sri Lanka, strained relations between the Indian Ocean neighbours.
Sri Lanka criticised a state of emergency imposed after the speedboat blast and warned the Maldives against creating “regional instability”.
The Maldives Independent contacted police for comment but a spokesman said he was unaware of the case and would check with the relevant departments. The Maldives Independent emailed police a copy of the Amnesty statement.