Hussain Salah

Hussain SalahOutrage over Maldives police custody death

Compiled from various sources – 4WardEver UK
originally published 29th April 2007
News updates on this case will be listed at the foot of this item

Torture by Maldivian police on detainees has come under spotlight once again with the discovery of a badly beaten body from the harbour of Atholhuvehi area on the morning of 15th April 2007 in the capital Male.’ The young man, Hussain Salah, was under police custody a few days before his death.

Even though the police claim that he was released on April 13, there are no reliable witnesses who had seen him after that. He made no contact with family and friends after his supposed release from police custody.

One of the earliest reports on the death:

A body of a man was discovered this morning floating in the harbour near Atholhuvehi area (a place used by Maldives Police to detain and torture people), a source in Male’ confirmed. The dead body has been taken to cemetery now and many people are gathering there to find out the identity of this dead man. “There are rumours that it could be one of the recent detainees from Addu, we don’t know yet, these are just rumours.

People are saying that they (the Police) as usual tortured him to death and threw him in the sea. It is quite possible,” said Ahmed from Male’. “What we are most worried about is that the police want to bury him quickly as is the case and hide the evidence. We must know who it is before we bury him,” he added further. We will report any new developments as soon as we get them.

Thousands of people gathered to protest against what they believed was another murder by police but the protesters themselves became the target of police brutality as they were beaten by an elite police squad, which had been criticized in recent months by a former British police superintendent.

Mohamed Nasheed, the Chairperson of Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP), was also severely beaten by the police and arrested. He was later released and is seeking medical treatment abroad. Mr Nasheed was among several hundred people who gathered at a cemetery to pay their respects to Mr Salah.

The family of the deceased wanted to carry out an autopsy to determine the reasons for the death but the police tried to bury the body. The police then offered to do an autopsy in Maldives by a Sri Lankan pathologist, but it came to light that there are no facilities in the Maldives for carrying out an autopsy. The family refused to have the autopsy done in the Maldives under arrangements made by police. In the end the government agreed to the family’s request to take the body abroad for the autopsy to take place.

The police initially said there were no visible injuries on the body, which hundreds of people who saw the body would deny. A concerned doctor posts in Maldives Health blog that the doctor who examined the body first refused to sign the papers to bury the body and insisted that the body be taken to hospital for further studies.

The government says Mr Salah was arrested on drugs charges and died after he was released on Friday. It said “unruly crowds” of opposition supporters had roamed the streets. There had been a number of arrests. The acting MDP president Ibrahim Hussain Zaki told Reuters news agency “His cell mates… people around him, [in detention] noticed him on the 14th April and some of them have given us evidence that he was beaten and he was shouting.”

In September 2003 anti-government riots rocked the Maldives capital when news emerged that two inmates had died in a jail riot.

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Follow-up News:

Demonstration in Addu calls for Salah’s body to be handed over to family for burial
27 April 2007

Row over Maldives ‘custody’ death
16 April 2007

Injuries as visible as police misconduct
17 April 2007

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