Police in the Maldives arrested former president Mohamed Nasheed [JURIST news archive] on Tuesday for missing a February 10 court appearance for charges that he illegally detained a judge prior to his resignation last year. Nasheed had taken refuge [Al Jazeera report] in the Indian High Commission in the Maldives [official website] last month to avoid police detainment, but left the Commission 10 days before he was arrested. Nasheed became the first democratically-elected president of the Maldives in 2008 but stepped down last year following public protest over his unilateral order to arrest [JURIST reports] and senior criminal court Judge Abdulla Mohamed on charges of corruption. The former president and his supporters contend that his actions were legal and that he was forced from office by opposition protests and a police mutiny. If convicted of the charges against him, Nasheed could be barred from participating in the presidential election slated for September of this year.
A Maldives court issued a second arrest warrant [JURIST report] for Nasheed last month, which led to his arrest Tuesday. Nasheed was also arrested [JURIST report] in October for leaving the capital city of Male in contravention of a court summons and a court-imposed travel ban. Nasheed failed twice to appear in court to face abuse of power charges. Earlier in October a three-judge panel was forced to postpone the first day of Nasheed'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 claimed that the move was politically motivated to limit the former president's ability to campaign for the upcoming election.