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Probe calls as tenth Maldives inmate dies

Giving prisoners basic rights should not be seen as giving them luxuries, said a local NGO.



There were calls Monday for a probe into the death of a Maldives inmate who passed away while being treated in hospital, making him the tenth prisoner to die under state care.

Hamzath Ahmed Fathuhy, 38, suffered a stroke last Wednesday and was brought to Malé later that night.

“He was coherent and awake when he was first brought to Indira Gandhi Memorial Hospital but was moved to ADK (hospital) at the family’s request,” a source close to the family told the Maldives Independent. “He was on a ventilator when he died.”

Hamzath was serving a 25-year jail sentence on a drug charge, reported Mihaaru.

The former footballer for Malé-based Valencia Sports Club came from the southern island of Gaaf Dhaal Thinadhoo.

“Such sad news to hear my former team mate Hamzath has passed away. He was a great player and nice person. May Allah bless his soul,” Ahmed Marzooq tweeted following news of the death.

The funeral was held after dawn prayers on Monday.

There was no response from authorities over allegations of negligence at the time of going to press. Maldives Correctional Service, ADK and the Human Rights Commission of the Maldives could not be reached for comment.

Hamzath’s father, Ahmed Fathuhy, told Mihaaru his son was taken to IGMH five hours after he was first shown to a doctor at Maafushi jail.

“Corrections called us and said Hamzath has been paralysed and taken to IGMH. We were at the hospital 15 minutes later. We wanted to be near him when he was being treated, but corrections did not allow it. Their actions were inhumane,” Fathuhy was quoted as saying.

“It is negligence when treatment is delayed in such a serious thing. They killed my son by denying treatment.”

– ‘Inmates being killed’ –

The inmate was treated at IGMH for three days before being transferred to ADK because IGMH could not carry out the required surgery, Mihaaru reported.

ADK doctors informed Fathuhy that his son was brain dead by the time he was transferred to the hospital. It was the second time Hamzath had suffered a stroke.

“Hamzath told us that he fell once before while playing. They treated him at Maafushi jail that time but we weren’t informed,” said his father.

Hamzath’s death makes him the tenth prisoner to die under state care in the past two years.

“I call on the authorities to investigate the death of Hamzath Ahmed who died while under the care of corrections,” Thinadhoo MP Abdulla Ahmed tweeted.

“Inmates are not dying in jail, they are being killed by denying treatment,” MP Ahmed Mahloof said.

Local NGO Maldivian Democracy Network called on the HRCM to investigate prison deaths.

“Medical negligence in prisons have cost us too many lives. We have lost another today. We call on the #NPM under #OPCAT @hrcmv to conduct public enquiries into prison and custodial deaths in the #Maldives,” it said in a tweet.

“Granting inmates and detainees with basic rights must not be seen as affording them luxuries. They have a legal right to timely medical care and other such rights. Incarceration is a punishment. No one must be punished twice for the same offence.”

Photo: Abdulla Ahmed