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Floodlight on Nasheed’s prison cell amounts to torture, says family

A floodlight aimed at former President Mohamed Nasheed’s prison cell throughout the night is depriving him of sleep, his family has said.



A floodlight aimed at former President Mohamed Nasheed’s prison cell is depriving him of sleep, his family has said.

“It has been at least three weeks since the floodlight has been turned on throughout the night. This amounts to torture, the heat and light is disrupting his sleep,” Nasheed’s brother Nazim Sattar told the Maldives Independent.

“He is also being prevented from exercising as recommended by the doctor,” he added.

Moosa Rameez, the spokesman for the Maldives Correctional Services, denied the claim, saying: “Floodlights are placed on high posts and are lit for security reasons but I can assure you that none are being directly aimed into Nasheed’s cell.

“Sticker paper has been pasted on the windows of Nasheed’s cell so that he may close them even during the day to stop light from entering.”

Rameez also said the MCS is facilitating daily exercise, and added: “As for swimming, the doctor only recommended he swim for a particular period, and that period has now expired.”

Nasheed was sentenced to 13 years in jail in March on a terrorism charge. A UN human rights panel has found his imprisonment illegal, but the government said his release is up to the Supreme Court now.

The apex court has not yet made a decision on hearing the state’s appeal.

The opposition leader’s arrest in February sparked mass protests and plunged the Maldives into political crisis.

Nasheed, who suffers from chronic back pain from torture in prison in the 1990s, has been brought to Malé several times since his arrest for doctor’s consultations.

Nazim told The Maldives Independent that family members have sent a second letter to the MCS asking Nasheed be given opportunity to exercise and swim, as recommended by the doctor.

“My brother told us that he himself had written to MCS requesting them to give him proper medical attention, they are yet to reply to the letter.”

Nasheed’s family has repeatedly voiced concern over prison conditions, but the government says the former president is held in a special cell at the high-security prison and afforded privileges.

The home ministry abruptly cut off visits from extended family and siblings in August. In October, his siblings lodged a complaint with the civil court and won rights to weekly visits.

The main opposition Maldivian Democratic Party is holding a mass protest this Friday urging President Abdulla Yameen to release all political prisoners.

In addition to Nasheed, two former defence ministers, one former ruling party MP and a former vice president have been jailed on a variety of charges.