A 55-year-old man detained at a police remand facility died Tuesday morning while en route to a hospital in the capital Malé.
Moosa Naeem’s health began to deteriorate at 3:35am at a centre on Dhoonidhoo, an island ten minutes from Malé, Ismail Ali, the police spokesman said.
“We monitored his condition for some time and then brought him to the Indira Gandhi Memorial Hospital around 6am, where doctors pronounced him dead,” Ismail said. “I believe he may have passed away en-route to Malé.”
Naeem’s body is being flown abroad for a post-mortem, the police said.
Ismail declined to comment on the details of Naeem’s death, or why he was arrested. Newspaper Mihaaru said the businessman was arrested on charges of drug trafficking.
The Human Rights Commission of the Maldives has launched an inquiry.
The watchdog in its annual report on the state of jails and detention centres noted delays by the police and prisons staff in providing medical care to inmates and detainees.
Recent custodial deaths in Maldives include the death of a 23-year-old who died of an apparent natural causes at the Maafushi Jail in May 2014. He had complained of chest pains before his death.
In 2014, Ibrahim Azar died from severe injuries inflicted by his cell mates. According to the Maldives Correctional Services, Azar had requested to be transferred from his cell more than an hour before the assault
Other high-profile custodial deaths include that of Hussain Solah, who was found dead in Malé’s lagoon in 2007, and of 19-year-old Evan Naseem, who was tortured to death by prison guards in 2003.
Evan’s murder triggered riots and fuelled a pro-democracy movement that unseated Maldives’ strongman Maumoon Abdul Gayoom after 30 years in power.