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Jailed former president’s health worsens

The 83-year-old Gayoom suffers from a condition that causes dizziness.



A specialist doctor was taken to the high-security Maafushi prison Tuesday as jailed former president Maumoon Abdul Gayoom’s health worsened.

Hussain Shameem, the 83-year-old former strongman’s lawyer, told the Maldives Independent that lawyers were informed when they went to Maafushi for a meeting.

“We learnt that his condition was not good and that the Maldives Correctional Service was trying to bring a doctor to the prison,” he said.

Lawyers have not been provided with any updates since Tuesday morning, the former deputy prosecutor general added.

Gayoom was found guilty of obstruction of justice in June and sentenced to 19 months in prison, a conviction that drew condemnation from India.

He suffers from a condition called Benign Paroxysmal Positional Vertigo (BPPV) that causes dizziness and difficulty standing without assistance. But the authorities have rejected the family’s appeal to transfer him to house arrest for round-the-clock care.

Abdul Aleem, a close aide of Gayoom, said the former president was unable to meet with lawyers because doctors “have told him not to make any movements”.

“We have also lodged the matter with the Human Rights Commission of the Maldives,” he said, adding that lawyers and family were trying to find a way to bring him to Malé for treatment.

No one from the HRCM or the MCS was available for comment at the time of publication.

Gayoom is also standing trial over an alleged coup plot to remove his half-brother President Abdulla Yameen from office. The separate terrorism charge carries a jail term of up to 20 years. His co-defendants include son MP Faris Maumoon, son-in-law Mohamed Nadheem and two former Supreme Court justices.

They deny all charges. The high-profile detainees were arrested after Yameen invoked emergency powers on February 5 in response to a Supreme Court order to release nine political prisoners.

“We’re seeing from President Yameen cruelty such that we have only seen from few Maldivian rulers. Maldivians cannot accept keeping his own brother in the jail cell,” former president Mohamed Nasheed tweeted Wednesday amid growing calls for Gayoom’s release.

“Vote for Honourable Ibrahim Mohamed Solih. It is obligatory to remove President Yameen from power.”