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Maldives Ex-President Held For Ignoring Court Summons
226 days ago
(RTTNews) - Former Maldivian President Mohamed Nasheed was arrested on a court order issued on Monday after he failed to appear for an earlier hearing on power-abuse charges, nearly eight months after he was forced to resign in what he insists was a "coup d'etat."
Nasheed is accused of acting unconstitutionally while ordering the arrest of a judge during the final days of his rule. His trial was originally scheduled to begin last Monday, but he failed to appear for the hearing and ignored court orders to stay in capital Male until the case was disposed of.
The court had issued an order preventing Nasheed from leaving Male. Nasheed, the first democratically-elected President of the Indian Ocean archipelago, now faces up to three years in jail or banishment to a remote island. He was arrested on Monday in the Island of Faresmaathodaa.
Nasheed had consistently denied any wrongdoing in the judge's arrest, insisting that the case against him was politically- motivated for preventing him from contesting the next Presidential elections.
Justice Abdulla Mohamed was arrested in January on charges of political bias and corruption after he ordered the release of a government critic. Nasheed's resignation in February came amid mass protests against the judge's detention.
Nasheed, once an Amnesty International prisoner of conscience, had announced his resignation in a nationally televised address on February 7, following days of protests and stand-off between the government, military and the police. He was succeeded by his former deputy Mohammed Waheed Hassan.
Nevertheless, Nasheed, 48, continues to insist that he was forced to quit at gunpoint by a group of armed rebel police and Army officers as a result of a coup orchestrated by Opposition leaders along with support from his own government and security forces. Notably, Hassan has rejected claims that Nasheed was forced out of office by a coup.
In the wake of Nasheed's claims, the government set up a Commission of National Inquiry (CoNI) to probe the coup allegations. The United Nations as well as the Commonwealth of Nations had provided legal advice to the Commission.
Last month, CoNI said in its final report that the transfer of power was legal. Stressing that Nasheed was not forced to step down at gunpoint as claimed, the report noted that his resignation was "voluntary and of his own free will" and was "not caused by any illegal coercion or intimidation."
Nasheed, however, rejected the Commission report, and his supporters staged several street protests across the island nation since the report was published. His Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) has pledged to continue its ongoing protests until the country's judicial system is reformed. Fresh Opposition protests are now expected to break out in the wake of Monday's development.
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