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Maldives ex-president arrested for violating court-imposed travel ban

Former Maldives president Mohamed Nasheed [JURIST news archive] was arrested and Monday for leaving the capital city of Male in contravention of a court summons and a court-imposed travel ban. Nasheed has twice failed to appear in court [AP report] to face abuse of power charges. Last Monday a three-judge panel was forced to postpone the first day of Nashed's trial after he violated his travel ban [JURIST report], leaving Male in a boat that day in order to campaign in the Maldives' southern islands. A week earlier the Hulhumale Magistrate Court had issued an order prohibiting Nasheed from leaving the city [JURIST report] without official permission. Nasheed's supporters have claimed that the move was politically motivated to limit the ex-president's ability to campaign for the election scheduled for November 2013. He was arrested by armed police in riot gear on Fares-Mathoda island in the Gaaf Dhaal atoll, almost 275 miles from the capital, and authorities have stated that he will appear in court within a day. The charges against Nasheed stem from the questioned legality of his unilateral order to arrest [JURIST report] Chief Justice Abdulla Mohamed on corruption charges in January, when Nasheed was still president.

The arrest of the chief justice and the resulting unrest in Maldives sparked weeks of tension and dissension, drawing international attention. In August a Maldives commission of inquiry concluded that Nasheed's resignation [JURIST reports] in February was legal and voluntary. In July the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) claimed that press freedom [JURIST report] in the country has been deteriorating since the resignation. Also in July a Maldives court refused to hear the case [JURIST report] against Nasheed, holding that it did not have jurisdiction to rule in the case. In April the Maldives Police Service referred the case to the Prosecutor General's Office two months after an arrest warrant [JURIST reports] was issued. A group of Maldives lawyers in January asked [JURIST report] the International Criminal Court (ICC) [official website; JURIST backgrounder] to review the legality of the arrest of Chief Justice Abdulla Mohamed. Also that month the Maldives Minister of Foreign Affairs had asked [JURIST report] the UN to help them to resolve the unrest arising out of the arrest of the chief justice.

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