Malawi protester dies in police custody

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Police in Malawi have confirmed the death of a protester in custody who they arrested on 18 September. He made an initial court appearance two days later on charges of inciting violence.

Justin Phiri, 29, died in the northern city of Mzuzu on Wednesday while awaiting trial.

Mr Phiri was detained as he was participating in a nationwide protest organised by civil society organisations demanding the resignation or sacking of the chair of the electoral commission, Jane Ansah. They accuse her of mismanaging May’s election, which was won by President Peter Mutharika.

The cause of Mr Phiri’s death is unknown as the official post-mortem results are yet to be released.

His family members, however, have said he had been severely beaten by soldiers who were trying to pacify rioting protesters. The police have struggled to contain the crowds which have been held routinely over the past few months in many parts of the country, particularly in opposition strongholds.

Some have turned violent resulting in serious injuries, looting and the destruction of infrastructure.

 

Dominica Nwabufo