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Watchdog denies former president suffered food poisoning

Former president Yameen remains hospitalised.



The National Integrity Commission has dismissed allegations that former president Abdulla Yameen was fed poisoned food in jail.

Citing an unnamed relative who claimed Yameen was being treated for respiratory difficulties, online tabloid Vaguthu reported Wednesday the family suspects he was fed poisonous food in the Maafushi jail. The claims appeared on a website called the next day.

The NIC investigated the allegations against prison authorities and found them to be untrue, the oversight body said in a statement Thursday.

“The commission met with former president Abdulla Yameen on 8th March to find details about the allegations made in this article and Yameen told the commission he had not made any complaints about eating poisoned food nor consulted the doctor in relation to food poisoning,” it said.

“This commission believes that this news is fake news since President Yameen said he was not aware of his family making such allegations and that he was happy and had no complaints about the food he was given by Maldives Correctional Services.”

The watchdog expressed concern over false news stories that “erode public trust in Maldives Correctional Services.”

The 59-year-old opposition leader – who was detained for a money laundering trial last month – was admitted at the Indira Gandhi Memorial Hospital in the capital for the third time on Thursday night, just hours after he was discharged after a three-day admission.

After he was taken to hospital on Monday, Yameen was kept for observation on the advice of cardiologists and released Thursday morning.

But he was hospitalised later that night after doctors in Maafushi referred him to IGMH, the government-run hospital’s spokesman Mohamed Mufeed told the Maldives Independent.

Yameen was hospitalised both times in relation to heart problems, he said.

Mufeed said the former president has now been “clinically discharged” by doctors, but would not say if he has left the hospital.

The Maldives Correctional Services was not available for comment at the time of publication.

A visiting delegation from the United Nations human rights chief’s office met with Yameen at the hospital last week.

The delegation led by Mona Rishwami, chief of the rule of law division, was given “unsupervised access,” the foreign ministry said.

According to the prisons authority, Yameen was detained at the special protection unit of Maafushi prison, which has air-conditioned and furnished rooms with amenities, a corridor and a backyard.

The unit was previously used to house high-profile prisoners jailed during Yameen’s five-year term. According to the prisons authority, detainees at the unit have access to newspapers and their health is closely monitored.

At a press briefing on Monday, opposition lawmaker Abdul Raheem Abdulla confirmed that Yameen remains hospitalised and expressed concern with his health.

He claimed doctors have advised Yameen to undergo tests unavailable in the Maldives.

At regular press briefings last week, Abdul Raheem complained about the former president not being allowed to exercise as advised by doctors. A treadmill was sent to prison but has not been assembled, he told reporters.

Yameen is not allowed outside the “apartment,” he said. Abdul Raheem also objected to cameras inside the rooms.

President Ibrahim Mohamed Solih has not responded to a request to transfer Yameen to house arrest and hold all-party talks, he told the press on Saturday.