Maldives ex-president freed as hearing begins
- Published: 9/10/2012 at 10:49 PM
- Online news:
The former president of the Maldives was freed Tuesday after overnight detention and given 25 days to answer allegations that he abused his powers while in office, officials said.
A photo from the Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) shows Maldivian police officers arresting Mohamed Nasheed in Fares Maathodaa on October. The former Maldives president has been freed after overnight detention and given 25 days to answer allegations that he abused his powers while in office, officials said.
Mohamed Nasheed, 45, who resigned in February in what he calls a coup, was arrested and taken before a three-judge bench after he had ignored two court summonses and violated an order to remain on the capital island Male.
"He denied the charges against him and raised objections to the process," said Shauna Aminath, an official from Nasheed's Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP). "He has been asked to appear before court on November 4 for the next hearing."
Government spokesman Masood Imad said Nasheed was free to leave after Tuesday's hearing.
"The court has given him 25 days to make a detailed submission on the charges," Imad said.
Nasheed is accused of giving an illegal order to the military to arrest a senior judge in January when he was the president.
If convicted, he could be jailed or banished to a remote island for three years -- a punishment that could bar him from future elections. The next polls are scheduled to take place by July next year.
The MDP maintained he cannot expect a fair trial in the Maldives and wants the government to carry out judicial reforms immediately.
"President Nasheed's legal team has already complained about the extraordinary way the trial is being conducted," an MDP statement said.
It said Nasheed's lawyers did not receive notifications from the court about trial dates. "Instead, they are finding this information out from local media," the statement added.
A large number of supporters turned up outside the court in the capital Male. They carried yellow flags of the MDP and called for the release of Nasheed who was arrested by riot police on Monday.
The Maldives, better known as a luxury holiday destination, has been rocked by violent protests over the past year in a standoff between Nasheed's MDP and its opponents who are now in power.
Nasheed, who won the first free elections in the Maldives in 2008, was forced out eight months ago after prolonged public demonstrations against him and a mutiny by police who took over the state television broadcaster.
After his arrest on Monday, he was held overnight at Dhoonidhoo, a small prison island near Male.
Human rights watchdog Amnesty International accused police of using excessive force while detaining Nasheed on an island in the south of the archipelago nation.
"We are deeply concerned about the reports of some police using violence around Nasheed's arrest, despite neither him nor his supporters offering any resistance," Amnesty researcher Abbas Faiz said.
The United States, a strong backer of the Maldives, urged all sides in the fledgling democracy to avoid violence and denied accusations that it had played any part in the arrest.
The Maldives is famous for its idyllic resorts that are known as a playground for the wealthy. But many in the nation of 330,000 Sunni Muslims live in poverty.
About the author
- Writer: AFP
Position: News agency