A lawyer representing Ahmed ‘Shumba Gong’ Ashraf, a 19-year-old arrested over the September blast on President Abdulla Yameen’s speedboat, is claiming prison officers tortured his client.
Ashraf was forced to sit on the floor, in handcuffs, while Maldives Correctional Services officers alternately poured hot and ice-cold water on him, said lawyer Moosa Siraj.
The water was not hot enough to burn, and did not leave marks on Ashraf’s skin, he said.
The incident took place after prison officers alleged Ashraf had vandalised a camera in his cell, Siraj said, suggesting the treatment may have come as retaliation.
“Ashraf only covered the lens of the CCTV camera in toothpaste because it was facing the toilet,” he said, adding that the case has been filed at the Human Rights Commission of the Maldives.
A spokeswoman said the commission is looking into torture allegations.
Ashraf’s clothes and toiletries have been confiscated by the Maldives Correctional Services, he said. The teenager is being held at the Maafushi Jail.
Siraj said he saw bruises on Ashraf’s wrists from long hours restrained in handcuffs.
Ashraf, a social media celebrity, was first arrested in Sri Lanka on November 1 suspicion of links to the September blast, but later charged with sending threatening text messages to a member of the ruling Progressive Party of the Maldives.
He denied charges at a first hearing on February 8.
The criminal court has ruled in favor of a request to keep Ashraf detained until the trial ended.
Hassan Ali, the MCS spokesman, denied allegations of mistreatment, saying: “No detainee will be treated inhumanely.”
Ali acknowledged that Ashraf’s cell held CCTV cameras, but denied claims that they faced the toilet.
Issuing threats carry a maximum jail sentence of one year. The court could alternately impose a fine for first-time offenders.
Ashraf is among eight suspects the government had declared a hunt for over the boat blast. All eight are among the former Vice President Ahmed Adeeb’s close associates. Adeeb is the chief suspect in the alleged assassination plot.
Another suspect arrested over the boat blast, Hamid Ismail, has also alleged that CCTV cameras placed in his cell faced the toilet, depriving him of privacy.
Hamid, an influential businessman, was arrested and extradited from Malaysia over the boat blast, but has not been charged over the explosion. He is being prosecuted as being an accomplice to the Maldives’ biggest ever corruption scandal involving the theft of some US$80 million from tourism leases.
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