Former Maldives president Mohamed Nasheed jailed for 13 years
Mohamed Nasheed, the first democratically elected leader of the Maldives, has been sentenced to 13 years in prison after being found guilty of terrorism. The verdict is likely to worsen the acute political instability in the popular luxury tourist destination and appears likely to provoke street violence. Nasheed, a respected human rights and environment campaigner, was elected president in the Maldives’ first free polls after the end of 30-year autocratic rule of Maumoon Abdul Gayoom in 2008. The former president’s alleged offence – the detention of a judge – dates back to shortly before he was ousted in what supporters say was a coup in 2012. “The prosecution’s evidence proved beyond reasonable doubt that Nasheed ordered the chief judge’s arrest or forceful abduction and detention,” the judge, Abdulla Didi, said in the court in the capital, Malé. Nasheed smiled when the verdict was read out and shook hands with three family members when he was escorted from the courtroom. In a statement released by his office, the 47-year-old called on the people of the Maldives to “to confront the dictatorial power of this regime” and “to take all of your lives in your hands and to go out on to the streets”. “Do not consider either the security of your personal lives or the transitory happiness of your wives, husbands, children, parents and relatives; for the security of all of your children and their children is in jeopardy,” he said. The three-judge bench’s verdict was unanimous and the office of the president, Abdulla Yameen, who has denied that the prosecution of his chief rival for power was political, confirmed the 13-year sentence. In February police dragged Nasheed into court despite his protests that he would go willingly on his own.