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Maldivian ex-president dismisses court charges

July 17, 2012


Maldives’ former president Mohamed Nasheed. — Photo by AP

COLOMBO: Former Maldivian president Mohamed Nasheed, who was forced out of office in February, vowed on Tuesday to defend himself against court charges of abuse of power and unlawful arrest.

Nasheed ordered senior judge Abdullah Mohamed's arrest in January over corruption allegations in a move that triggered weeks of protests capped by a police mutiny that saw him ousted as leader.

On Monday government spokesman Masood Imad said Nasheed, who claims he was ousted in a coup, would be formally charged over the judge's arrest.

“Don't withdraw the charges. I will not back down from this case. I did nothing unlawful during my tenure,” Nasheed said at a public rally in the capital Male on Tuesday, according to the independent Minivan news agency.

Nasheed told supporters of his Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) that he was undeterred by moves to take him court and that he would keep up protests against his successor Mohamed Waheed.

The MDP, which says Nasheed has not yet been formally charged, has condemned the moves to take him to court as a tactic to prevent him from running for re-election.

Soon after Nasheed's downfall the government secured a warrant for his arrest on the same charges, but the warrant was not executed following international pressure on the new regime.

If Nasheed is put on trial and found guilty of wrongful arrest of a judge, he could face up to three years in jail or be exiled to a remote Indian Ocean island.

The United States, the Commonwealth, and neighbouring India have backed MDP calls for presidential elections to be held this year, but President Waheed has ruled out elections before July next year.

The political upheaval in February badly damaged the tourism industry in the Maldives, which is known for its luxury resorts and pristine island beaches.