MALE, Maldives (AFP) – The United States and regional power India voiced concern after former Maldives president Mohamed Nasheed was forcibly dragged into court to face terrorism charges, and denied legal access and medical treatment.
Nasheed, who was ousted three years ago, was denied bail in a brief hearing Monday after being arrested on what critics have labelled “trumped-up charges” designed to shut down growing opposition to the government of President Abdulla Yameen.
Police hauled the former leader into the court in the capital Male, ignoring his plea to be allowed to walk in himself.
Nasheed told the court that his arm hurt after police violently pushed him to the ground, but the three-judge bench brushed aside his complaints, only asking police to grant him “necessary treatment” after the hearing.
Instead of taking him to hospital in Male, however, Nasheed was seen being taken away by boat to the nearby prison islet of Dhoonidhoo. His shirt buttons were missing and he looked to be in pain throughout the hearing.
Regional power India expressed concern over the “arrest and manhandling”, with the foreign ministry in Delhi urging “all concerned to calm the situation and resolve their differences within the constitutional and legal framework of Maldives”.
US Assistant Secretary of State for South and Central Asia Nisha Biswal also voiced concern over Nasheed’s arrest when she spoke to the Maldivian foreign minister on the weekend, a State Department spokeswoman said.
“She (Biswal) urged the government to take steps to restore confidence in… their commitment to democracy, judicial independence, and rule of law, including respect for the right to peaceful protest and respect for due process,” spokeswoman Jen Psaki said.
The charges, which carry a maximum penalty of more than 10 years in prison, relate to the January 2012 arrest of then-criminal court chief judge Abdullah Mohamed, when Nasheed was still president.
He resigned as the Maldives’ leader the following month, after a mutiny by police and troops that followed weeks of protests over Mohamed’s arrest on corruption allegations.