updated 6/26/2005 12:07:52 AM ET 2005-06-26T04:07:52

Seven Pakistani police officers have been fired after media reports that they sewed shut a prisoner’s lips to stop him from shouting insults at them, an official said on Saturday.

A deputy inspector-general of police, Malik Mohammed Iqbal, said he fired the officers Saturday after receiving a report about the alleged incident Thursday at a lockup in Vehari town, about 60 miles east of the city of Multan.

However, Iqbal said it was “yet to be determined who actually sewed the lips of the prisoner,” whom he identified as Mohammed Hussain.

Iqbal said the inmate “initially accused police of torturing him and sewing his lips” but later “changed his statement and said he sewed up his lips with his own hand.”

“This is a sensitive matter, and we will do justice with him (Hussain) if police were found guilty of torturing him,” Iqbal said.

He said officers will submit a final report about the incident to him within the next several days.

Pakistan’s largest-circulation English-language newspaper, The News, reported Saturday that police sewed Hussain’s lips when he “protested the police torture and used filthy language against the policemen who were torturing him.”

Also Saturday, Ifat Pasha, a doctor who treated the prisoner, said he saw four stitches on the man’s lips. “I think somebody did this thing to him,” the doctor said.

The torture of inmates and suspects at police stations is common in Pakistan, but no official was punished in 2004-05 for such abuse, according to this year’s report by the independent Human Rights Commission of Pakistan.

Rashid Rahman, the head of commission’s chapter in Multan, said members planned to meet with Hussain as well as police, jail and health officials to determine why the alleged incident took place.

“Police routinely beat suspected criminals, and many of them are held in illegal custody, but what happened with Mohammed Hussain is more shocking, and such incidents are rare in the country,” he said.

Rahman has urged the government to appoint a judge to probe the case, saying he fears police could force Hussain to withdraw his allegations.

© 2013 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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