After spending 24 hours in detention, former Maldivian President Mohamed Nasheed on Wednesday walked out of police custody as his trial for alleged illegal detention of a judge has been deferred by four weeks.
During the hearing, which lasted for over a one-and-a-half hours, 45-year-old Mr. Nasheed sought deferment of trial till the Presidential polls in September. The Prosecutor too had agreed to the proposal.
However, noting that the Elections Commission is yet to announce Mr. Nasheed as a presidential candidate for the elections, the Bench postponed the trial by four weeks.
“Nasheed has walked out as a free man. He was taken into custody on orders of the court because he was evading Court summons and not because of any vendetta as he claims,” President Mohamed Waheed’s Press Secretary Masood Imad told PTI.
He added, “We have maintained right from the beginning that we cannot interfere in judicial matters. Even the trail against him has been postponed by four weeks only because of the wishes of the Court”.
Mr. Nasheed was arrested on Tuesday less than a fortnight after he left the Indian High Commission in Male where he was holed up for 11 days to evade arrest in a case concerning the detention of the Chief Criminal Judge during his Presidency.
His arrest led to protests by Mr. Nasheed’s supporters who also indulged in violence. President Waheed’s brother too was allegedly roughed up by protesters.
Police too cracked down on protesters and took into custody over 70 people including women.
Asserting that India was monitoring the situation very closely, the Ministry of External Affairs in New Delhi had said yesterday that it “expects due process and the Rule of Law would be followed”.
Mr. Nasheed claims the trial is “politically motivated” to bar him from contesting in the presidential elections.
If convicted in the case, he will face a maximum sentence of one year in jail. He will also be barred from contesting elections for three years.