Former Maldivian president Mohamed Nasheed was arrested this afternoon in Male before his hearing tomorrow at Hulhumale’ Magistrate Court. Nasheed is also the subject of the upcoming Independent Lens documentary The Island President (airing April 22), which chronicles his first year in office.
Police Spokesperson Chief Inspector Hassan Haneef told Minivan News, “We have received the order. Police have taken Nasheed into custody in order to produce him at Hulhumale’ Magistrate Court 16 hours from now.”
The Times of India has called Nasheed’s arrest “a snub to India” because he was recently freed after Indian intervention.
In February 2012, the military and police ousted Mohamed Nasheed as leader of the Maldives, and we interviewed The Island President filmmaker Jon Shenk about that turn of events. Since the power shake-up that put President Mohammed Waheed Hassan and the Progressive Party of the Maldives (PPM) in control, Nasheed has led protests and begun campaigning for an election now scheduled in September 2013. However, the current government has accused Nasheed of illegally arresting a judge during his time in office. If Nasheed is convicted, he will be ineligible to run. So far, Nasheed refused to appear at his trial. He was arrested briefly for defying the court order, but had been back on the campaign trail.
Last month, Nasheed stepped down from the Indian High Commission after the Maldivian and Indian government came to an agreement that he would be able “to conduct a peaceful campaign and participate in an inclusive election,” according to Minivan News. But a few days ago, a court in the Maldives banned Nasheed from traveling abroad, and now Nasheed has been arrested a day before his court hearing.
“Of course political leaders, including Nasheed, should be held to account — but the targeting of Nasheed is an example of selective justice,” said Abbas Faiz, Amnesty International’s Maldives Researcher, on the organization’s website. “Former President Maumoon Abdul Gayoom (1978-2008) has never been investigated or held to account for alleged abuses committed during his rule. All leaders should be held to account for alleged abuses and in fair trials.”