An inmate serving a 10-year sentence for drug abuse died at the Maafushi jail last night of what appears to be natural causes.
Ahmed Lishan, 23, complained of chest pains to prison guards during a head count at the low security unit, home ministry media coordinator Thazmeel Abdul Samad told Minivan News.
“He was taken to the island health centre where the doctor pronounced him dead,” he said
Thazmeel said the inmate is believed to have died en route to the health centre around 8:55pm last night. The cause of death remained unclear and the authorities were awaiting a report from the doctor, he added.
While rumours of a custodial death began circulating on social media last night, both Lishan’s family and the human rights watchdog have said there were no signs of physical abuse when the body was brought to the cemetery in Malé.
A family member told Minivan News that Lishan had been admitted at hospital with chest pains about six months ago. Lishan had sustained an injury to the chest when he was hit by a ball while playing sports at the jail.
He had been complaining about the pain getting worse, the relative said.
The family was informed of his death around 9:00pm last night.
The relative said the family does not suspect foul play as the authorities had shown the inmate’s body to his father around 1:30am. The body was brought to Malé for burial at the family’s request and was reportedly laid to rest after dawn prayers.
However, a source familiar with the matter alleged that prison guards had ignored pleas from Lishan’s cellmates to take him out for treatment after he complained of chest pains.
The source claimed Lishan was dead when he was taken from the cell. The Maafushi jail has not had a resident doctor for a month, he added.
The Human Rights Commission of the Maldives (HRCM) has meanwhile launched an investigation. An HRCM team visited the Aasahara cemetery to inspect the body.
The commission said that it will share findings with the authorities after concluding the investigation.
In February 2014, Ibrahim Azar, an inmate serving a five-year sentence for drug abuse, suffered severe head injuries after being attacked by two cellmates. He died in April last year while undergoing treatment in India.
On April 9, police began investigating an incident in Addu City where a 28-year-old detainee suffered extensive burns to his back. The victim was being held at a cell inside the Hithadhoo police station ahead of transfer to a detention centre.
The HRCM is also investigating the case and the authorities have yet to reveal how the detainee caught on fire.