Officials from the Home Ministry have confirmed to local media that Ibrahim Azar – critically injured during a jail fight in Maafushi prison last month – has been sent to Sri Lanka for medical treatment.
According to a report on the incident shared by the Maldives Correctional Services (MCS) with parliament’s government oversight committee earlier this month, Azar had requested to be transferred from his cell more than an hour before the assault.
A person familiar with the matter told Minivan News that Azar was attacked by his cell mates after calling prison officers when a fight broke out between two of his cell mates on February 24.
“Azar was kept in A-B/Unit-3 of Maafushi Prison with two other inmates, and that day the two inmates had an issue and started fighting,’’ the source said.
“Azar called the prison officers and the prison officers talked to the two that were fighting and resolved the issue – but as soon as the prison officer left they started fighting again.’’
He added that Azar called the prison officers once more, though the fighting had stopped by the time officers arrived and so the guards left the cell again.
“It repeated three times, and after the fourth time prison officers were called Azar was attacked by his two cell mates,’’ the source said.
The source alleged that Azar’s cell mates attacked him using a razor blade. He received multiple wounds to his body, and his head was allegedly banged against the cell wall or the metal fence.
However, officials from the MCS had denied that any “sharp objects” were used in the assault when asked by MPs at the oversight committee meeting.
The source meanwhile said that the hospitalised inmate was “very skinny” and “very weak.”
“After the attack the prison officers had to wrap him inside a mat to carry him outside due to bleeding, his head was smashed,” he said.
“The inmates have to shake the metal fences to alert the prison officers if anything is happening otherwise they will pretend they did not hear,’’ he said.
“If one cell starts shaking the fences all the other cells will start shaking the metal fence.’’
According to the one-page MCS report, on February 24, Prison Corporal Mohamed Mujthaba, the ranking duty officer at the time of the incident, was informed by guards of unrest in cell number 12 of unit three, wing one, at about 5:25pm.
Mujthaba questioned the prisoners and was asked by two of the three inmates in cell 12 – Ali Ashwan of Ma. Oasis Villa and Azar – to be transferred to a different cell.
“However, when [the inmates] were asked to explain the reason for wanting to change cells, they refused to do so until they were taken out of the cell,” the report revealed.
At about 6:00pm, the report stated, instructions were given to transfer the inmates, but the third inmate in cell 12 – Ahmed Liushan, also from Ma. Oasis Villa – obstructed prison guards who attempted to take the other inmates out of the cell.
At about 6:50pm, Mujthaba and Emergency Support Group officers made their way to the cell upon hearing a commotion from the unit, finding the “severely beaten” Azar inside.
Negligence in the prison was also reported to have led to violence in December 2010 after inmates attempted to inform prison officers of the illness of a cell-bound inmate.
After officers failed to respond to pleas from inmates, prisoners reportedly shook the bars to gain the attention of officers – who were subsequently alleged to have beaten the inmates causing the disturbance.
“Nobody cares for the inmates, only some politicians speak about it, but only for political purposes and not with the intention of correcting anything,” said a source close to the incident at the time.