The first elected president of the Maldives risks arrest after boycotting the scheduled start of his criminal trial and violating a travel ban, the government said yesterday.
Former Maldivian president Mohamed Nasheed had been due to go on trial on Monday on abuse of power charges in connection with the events that led to his toppling in February.
However, his case was adjourned, without a new date being set, after Nasheed failed to turn up at court. He was then seen sailing out of the archipelago’s main island in defiance of an order to stay in the capital.
“The court will issue him another summons,” presidential media secretary Masood Imad said.
“After the second summons, if he does not comply, the standard procedure is they [the court] will instruct the police to bring him in,” Imad said.
Nasheed, who won the Maldives first democratic elections in 2008, had been ordered to appear before a three-judge bench in Male at an early evening sitting, but he was seen leaving the capital by boat to meet with supporters of his Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) in the south of the Maldives.
“I don’t think the charges are correct,” Nasheed said at the jetty.
The 45-year-old former leader said at the weekend he did not expect a fair trial that could see him jailed or banished to a remote island.
The case centers on Nasheed’s decision to send the military to arrest a senior judge, which fueled already simmering anti-government protests and culminated in a police mutiny in February and his ultimate downfall.
Nasheed justified the arrest of the chief criminal court judge by saying the judicial service commission had failed to act on a string of allegations against him.
Nasheed, a climate change campaigner who was tortured in jail during Maumoon Abdul Gayoom’s three-decade rule of the Maldives, insists he was threatened by armed rebel officers and forced to announce his resignation on television.
However, Mohamed Waheed, Nasheed’s deputy who became president, has rejected claims his former boss was forced to resign and that he is the target of a vendetta.
Apart from the criminal case, Nasheed also faces two defamation suits filed against him.