MALE, March 5 Police in the tropical Indian
Ocean resort archipelago of the Maldives arrested former
president Mohamed Nasheed on Tuesday, 10 days after he left the
Indian High Commission where he had taken refuge to avoid
A court had ordered police to arrest Nasheed after he missed
a Feb. 10 court appearance in a case relating to accusations
that he illegally detained a judge during the last days of his
"We have received a court order to arrest him and produce to
the court," Maldives police spokesman Hassan Haneef told
"...We have him in police custody. He will be produced in
Nasheed, the Maldives' first democratically elected leader,
left office last year in contested circumstances. He entered the
Indian High Commission on Feb. 13 and left 10 days later on the
understanding that he would be able to conduct "peaceful
His supporters say he was ousted last February in a coup in
the Maldives, a major tourist destination. They have clashed
with police outside the diplomatic mission.
If Nasheed is found guilty in the case, he could be barred
from standing in a presidential election on Sept. 7. His party
says the trial is an attempt to exclude him from the contest and
has challenged the court's legitimacy.
Nasheed says he was forced from power at gunpoint after
opposition protests and a police mutiny. A national commission
last August said the toppling of his government was not a coup,
but a transfer of power that followed the constitution, a ruling
that triggered several days of demonstrations.
The Maldives held its first free elections in 2008. Nasheed
defeated Maumoon Abdul Gayoom, who had ruled for 30 years and
was accused by opponents and international human rights groups
of running the country as a dictator.
(Reporting by J.J. Robinson in Male; Writing by Shihar Aneez in
COLOMBO; Editing by Nick Macfie)