Maldives Police Service’s Professional Standard Command has begun investigating an allegation of riot police using excessive force on a protestor inside the police vehicle while transferring him to custody.
Hussen Shifaau, a supporter of former President Maumoon Abdul Gayyoom, was arrested during a protest on Friday night from Maaveyo Magu in capital Male.
He alleged that, after he was taken into the police jeep, two police officers in plainclothes had climbed in through the back of the vehicle and began assaulting him.
“[They] didn’t tell him why, didn’t show him any warrants or anything – he didn’t even know who they were at first – they just went into the jeep and started beating him,” another activist from Maumoon’s faction said.
A video of the incident also circulated on social media. The video showed Shifaau waiting inside the parked police jeep with two other officers in riot gear. He appeared to be saying some things at the police officers waiting outside the jeep – and a few minutes later, two officers in plainclothes had jumped aboard and started assaulting Shifaau. However, as soon as the two officers who were already on the jeep noticed, they had stopped the other officers.
While the police’s Professional Standard Command is looking into Shifaau’s case, during the opposition protests over the weekend, a man had gone into a coma after the police allegedly pepper sprayed him in the mouth inside Jumhoory Party’s main hub in Male, ‘Kunooz’. The man is being treated at the Intensive Care Unit of state-run Indira Gandhi Memorial Hospital.
The opposition continues to accuse the police of assaulting protesters and using unnecessary force when dispersing protests. While they maintain that there are “some good police officers”, many regular protesters claim that it is only a select division of the police force that are violent at rallies.