Maldives ex-prez denied bail, dragged into court by police

  • Rezaul H Laskar, Hindustan Times, Male
  • Updated: Feb 23, 2015 21:31 IST

Former president Mohamed Nasheed was manhandled by policemen and dragged into a court building in the Maldives capital Male on Monday, a day after he was arrested on terrorism charges for his 2012 decision to detain a top judge.

Nasheed, 47, fell to the ground after he was pushed by policemen clad in riot gear when he stopped outside the Criminal Court to speak to reporters gathered there.

Footage aired on TV news channels showed Nasheed falling when he was pushed by policemen, who formed a ring to prevent reporters and TV crews from approaching him.

Another brief video posted on Facebook, apparently shot with a mobile phone, showed Nasheed lying on the ground, his shirt torn, as policemen forcefully dragged him towards the court building. In both videos, Nasheed could be seen arguing with the policemen and asking to be allowed to walk in himself.

The court subsequently refused bail to Nasheed. "The court ordered President Nasheed to be kept in police custody until the end of the trial," said Shauna Aminath, a spokeswoman for his Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP).

India said it was concerned by the developments in the Maldives, including the “arrest and manhandling” of Nasheed. External Affairs Ministry spokesman Syed Akbaruddin said in a statement: “We urge all concerned to calm the situation and resolve their differences within the constitutional and legal framework of Maldives.”

The MDP said the charges against Nasheed were “politically motivated” and that he had been illegally denied access to his lawyers. He asked for medical attention and was taken to hospital after the court hearing.

The Maldives appeared set for another spell of political uncertainty after Nasheed was arrested on Sunday.

The arrest came just a fortnight before an expected visit by Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi as part of his tour of four countries in the Indian Ocean region. Modi is expected to arrive in the Maldives on March 15.

Authorities claimed the Criminal Court issued a warrant for his arrest on Sunday so that he could not flee the country to avoid terrorism charges related to the detention of a judge while Nasheed was in office.

Nasheed had taken refuge in the Indian High Commission in Male to avoid arrest in the same case two years ago.

The arrest sparked clashes in Male between police and supporters of his Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP).

Nasheed and some key members of his administration face terrorism charges for the detention of Criminal Court Chief Judge Abdulla Mohamed three years ago.

Hisaan Hussein, a member of Nasheed’s legal team, told reporters that police had “caused injury” to the former president while escorting him to court and that his lawyers had conveyed his request for medical assistance.

Since the Criminal Court had not granted the request, the issue was forwarded to the Human Rights Commission of Maldives by the MDP.

Nasheed’s supporters gathered near the Criminal Court but police cordoned off the area.

The former president had angered the Maldives government by seeking Indian intervention to counter the possible imposition of emergency by President Abdullah Yameen. In several interviews with the Indian media over the past few days, he also expressed fears that he would be arrested.

In February 2012, political unrest in the Maldives following the ouster of Nasheed briefly threatened the country's vital tourism industry, which draws thousands of well-heeled visitors every year.

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