A middle-aged man serving a 15-year sentence on child abuse charges has died of a heart attack on Thursday. His is the fourth death in custody this year.
Ahmed Hassan, 55, was found dead by prison guards at 4:40am at the low security prison, Asseyri Jail, on December 1.
A spokesman for the Maldives Correctional Services said Hassan was not known to have medical problems and was in good health prior to his death.
“Doctors suspect he died of a heart attack, according to his death certificate,” said Ahmed Lugman, the MCS spokesman.
The watchdog Human Rights Commission of the Maldives said it has launched an investigation.
Hassan was sentenced in August 2014.
Three other custodial deaths have been reported this year. All three were men awaiting trial.
In November, a 28-year old man held at the high security prison on Maafushi Island died after he was brought to the capital city for medical care. Hussain Zareer’s cause of death remains unclear.
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.
Separately, a four month old boy died at the state-run children’s home in Hulhumalé in October. An informed source has alleged that the boy was not treated for a broken arm.