A 19 year-old has alleged that he was arbitrarily arrested near his home on Monday night and tortured in police custody.
Ali Shuaib, 19, showed Minivan News bruises and swelling on his leg, hand and nose.
“Police arrested me while I was waiting near my house to have a chat with my friend,’’ he explained. “While waiting there, before the police squad arrived, we saw a group of people fleeing; we did not knew what was going on and we did not pay much attention.’’
Shuaib claimed a squad of police officers arrived after a short while and told him not to move.
“Unaware of the situation, I stayed calm, they came and checked me, told me I was clear and had nothing with me,’’ he said. “But they said their superiors had ordered them to detain me for 23 hours and they handcuffed me and took me to Galolhu Police Station first.’’
At the Galolhu Police Station, he continued, police officers filled his detention form and transferred him to the ‘Atholhuvehi’ custodial in Male’.
‘’While I was there, a police lance corporal came and asked ‘what the hell I was doing there’. His voice was aggressive and he spoke rudely,’’ he claimed. “I told him it was none of his business because police custodial is not his property.’’
After some verbal sparring, Shuaib claimed that the police officer hit him in the face.
“I hit back and fought in my defence,” he said. “A while later the whole duty shift came and attacked me, they hit me in the chest and back with their ankles, hit my foot with a tin trash can.
“Then when I was almost unconscious they put me in solitary confinement, handcuffed in a cross position with both hands and feet locked together. They even stepped on my back and pressed hard while I was kept in that position.”
The next duty shift came in after about two hours, he continued, and removed the handcuffs and transferred Shuaib to another cell after offering him water and medication.
“When I was released from the handcuffs I could hardly breathe; the next duty shift came and gave me water and poured water on my head and kept me on a chair till I felt better,’’ he said.
Shuaib was released without being presented to court.
“It is very common now, police arrest any person they wish and keep them in custody for 23 hours,” he claimed.
According to the Constitution of the Maldives, any person detained should be presented to court within 24 hours of arrest.
Police Sub-Inspector Ahmed Shiyam told Minivan News today that if such a case was filed with the police, “police will investigate the case applying professional standards and take necessary action.’’
Shiyam said if Shuaib was not confident with the police he could file the case with the Police Integrity Commission. No case had been lodged, he said.
Shuaib was recently arrested on suspicion of crimes including murder, robbery and assault, but was released without charge.
Press Secretary for the President Mohamed Zuhair said that custodial torture is “strictly prohibited” by the president.
“It is not something that should happen, and there are many ways [Shuaib] could pursue the case,” Zuhair said. “He could file the case at the Human Rights Commission, and Police Integrity Commission, and the case would be investigated.’’
On July 15, police and the Maldives National Defense Force (MNDF) arrested almost 60 people, including minors, in a joint special operation to curb escalating gang violence in the capital.
Many of those who were arrested in the special operation alleged that they were mistreated and abused during their arrest and detention.