Torture ruled out on dead Maldivian dissident

COLOMBO, April 22, 2007 (AFP) – An independent autopsy found no signs of torture on a Maldives dissident who died shortly after being released from custody, officials here said Sunday. The body of Hussein Salah was flown to Sri Lanka on Friday for a medical examination following allegations that he had been killed while in police custody and his body dumped in a lagoon.

Sri Lanka’s chief judicial medical officer, LBL de Alwis, said the man had drowned and ruled out torture.

Attempts by the Maldivian authorities last week to bury the victim in Male without an autopsy led to angry protests. The government in the Maldives archipelago sent the body here on Friday following a request by his family.

The opposition Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) accused police of killing the man.

The MDP is leading a campaign against Maldivian President Maumoon Abdul Gayoom, who is currently the longest serving president in Asia, elected in 1978.

Political parties were allowed in the Maldives for the first time in June 2005 in line with reforms announced by Gayoom. The Maldives, home to around 300,000 Sunni Muslims, is yet to hold multi-party elections and Gayoom’s opponents have ac