The main opposition Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) has accused police of torturing and threatening to kill suspects arrested for assaulting a police officer during Friday’s anti-government protest.
Nine suspects have been taken into custody over the assault. Video footage shows protesters tripping and kicking a Specialist Operations (SO) officer and one man hitting the policeman over the head with his baton.
The MDP said Moosa Sharmeel, 35, was arrested from his home in Malé by policemen in plainclothes and severely beaten in front of his wife and children.
“He was taken to police headquarters where he was beaten again. The detainee reports that the policemen inside the building, including those at the reception counter, cheered on while he was being beaten,” the MDP said in a statement yesterday.
Policemen kept saying “we will kill you” as they beat him, Sharmeel told his lawyer.
“He was shoved on the floor and beaten until he lost consciousness. His head smashed open when he was shoved to the floor.”
Police have denied the allegations of torture. A police media official told Minivan News yesterday that lawyers for the detainees have not submitted complaints to the police.
Lawyers and families could also file cases with independent oversight bodies such as the Police Integrity Commission (PIC) and the Human Rights Commission of Maldives (HRCM), the official suggested.
The human rights watchdog is investigating cases of alleged police brutality and custodial abuse.
Nearly 200 protesters were arrested from the 20,000-strong anti-government demonstration, which was the highest number of arrests made from a single protest in over a decade. Some 175 protesters are being held in remand detention for 15 days.
Sharmeel’s lawyer, Abdulla Haseen, told the press yesterday that a police officer intervened and stopped the beating. He was then taken to the Indira Gandhi Memorial Hospital and admitted at the intensive care unit for treatment of injuries.
Police denied his requests for a CT scan after he complained of a “foul smelling discharge from his head,” the MDP said.
Haseen said Sharmeel was suffering from chest pains, had difficulty digesting food, and suspects he has internal injuries due to the beating.
Eyewitnesses told Minivan News they saw policemen in plainclothes beating a man around 3:15am on Saturday near the Henveiru stadium, close to Sharmeel’s residence. Seven men, some wearing jerseys and shorts, repeatedly punched and kicked the man and drove off with him in a police van.
The MDP said Sharmeel was not taken to court within 24 hours “as his injuries from the beatings would have been too visible.”
“Instead, he was released near the Malé detention Centre (Atoll Vehi) and immediately shown another arrest warrant and taken into custody again,” the party said.
Police allegedly told Sharmeel he was “arrested for his own safety” and are now claiming “he was beaten inside his home by members of the public who also allegedly transported him to the Police HQ.”
The MDP also said two other suspects, Abdulla Ibad, 32, and Mohamed Rasheed, 52, were also beaten at the police headquarters.
Both detainees reported police threatening to kill them. Rasheed said police “kept saying ‘you will never walk out of here alive again. We will charge you with terrorism, you do not have that much longer to live anyway.'”
The party said other detainees reported beatings on the police vehicle after their arrest.
Former MDP MP Ahmed Easa was allegedly kicked and beaten on the head with batons after he was hauled on to the police vehicle. Minivan News journalists at the scene heard Easa scream from the vehicle packed with SO officers.
Easa was limping when he was brought to the remand hearing on Saturday.
The MDP noted that video footage shows Easa along with other protesters shove off the violent protesters, help the fallen SO officer to his feet, and take him back behind police lines.
Easa and MDP chairperson Ali Waheed were brought to a clinic in Malé last night. The MDP has said police doctors at Dhoonidhoo recommended the pair consult specialist doctors.
Lawyer Fareesha Abdulla said yesterday that three of her clients among the May Day detainees have alleged beatings by police.
The Dhoonidhoo doctor recommended medication for head injuries for one detainee, who says he has not received medicine so far, she said.
Police officers kicked and beat a second detainee with batons on a police vehicle, she said, while an SO officer kicked him on the groin with his knee at the police headquarters.
He has not been provided medicine prescribed by police doctors, she said.
Another detainee with a chronic illness said police were not providing medication at prescribed times, Fareesha said.
The detainee was having seizures due to the lack of medication, she said.