The Maldivian Foreign Ministry has asked the Indian High Commission to hand former President Mohamed Nasheed to police ahead of his trial on Wednesday.
Police requested the Foreign Ministry to approach the High Commission on Tuesday, after the Hulhumale Magistrate Court ordered them to produce Nasheed for his court hearing at 4:00pm on February 20.
President’s Office Spokesperson Masood Imad said “I wouldn’t call it an arrest warrant. It’s a court order for police to summon him to court.”
Asked whether this order would involve police using force to produce Nasheed, Masood stated that “I’m not a policeman but presumably they will ask him to come with them, and if he does not they will put him in a police vehicle. The actual strategy is a police function. I hope they don’t do anything excessive.”
“As far as the police are concerned, we will make sure they do not break the diplomatic rights of the embassy. Having said that, police may not have to use force to take him out,” he said.
“Police have asked the foreign ministry to advise the high commission that they have a warrant to present Nasheed in court. If [Indian High Commissioner] Mr Mulay does not budge, they will report back and it ends there,” Masood said.
Nasheed would be free again after Wednesday 4:00pm when the current warrant would expire, “until another warrant is issued”, he added.
The High Court also on Tuesday ordered the Foreign Ministry deliver a court order to Nasheed, concerning an appeal hearing of the first – now expired – arrest warrant for the February 13 hearing. The High Court appeal is scheduled for 1:00pm on Wednesday, three hours before his second hearing.
Nasheed sought refuge in the High Commission – which is protected diplomatic territory under the Vienna Convention – after the court earlier issued a warrant for his arrest and presentation in court on February 13. The scheduled hearing was canceled in his absence and the warrant expired.
Nasheed’s Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) issued a statement slamming the arrest warrant issued by the “kangaroo court”.
“The MDP believes that the Hulhumale Magistrate Court is, de facto, controlled by Dr Waheed and his allies, and that the sole purpose of the court case against President Nasheed is to prevent his candidature in the upcoming presidential elections,” the party said.
“Waheed, in collusion with allies in the judiciary, has established a kangaroo court to convict President Nasheed. The Judicial Services Commission that set up the court comprises Waheed’s appointees as well as Nasheed’s political rivals, including those running for president. Waheed hides behind so-called judicial independence but his fingerprints are all over this trial,” said MDP Spokesperson MP Hamid Abdul Ghafoor.
“India, the United States, the European Union, the United Kingdom, the United Nations, and the Commonwealth have all called for free and fair elections in which all candidates are freely permitted to stand. Waheed is defying the world by continuing his political persecution of President Nasheed,” he said.
The President’s Office Human Rights Ambassador Ahmed Ibrahim “Sandhaanu” Didi told a press conference yesterday that the MDP “shouldn’t be allowed to exist” as it was an “unlawful organisation which commits terrorist activities”, and called on the Elections Commission to dissolve it.
The Indian High Commission has so far made no indication that it intends to hand over Nasheed to the Maldivian police ahead of his scheduled trial.
Indian Minister of External Affairs Shri Salman Khurshid said on Monday that the former President “is a guest in the mission. He came and we extended courtesies and that’s it. This was explained to the [Maldives] foreign minister. We are not taking sides with anyone. We are not engaged or involved in the internal politics,” he said.
“As friends of the Maldives, our only expectation, and this is the expectation of the democratic world, is that elections which have been announced will hopefully be free and fair. As friends we obviously have advised anything that detracts from the perception of free fair elections is obviously not good for Maldives,” Khurshid said.
“The people of the Maldives have India’s support. Whoever the people of the Maldives elect will have India’s support. The Maldives can’t change its history. The Maldives cannot deny the history of somebody who was President of Maldives. And we cannot deny the Maldives’ present by saying that whatever there is at present is not to our liking. It’s the people of Maldives who decide and whoever they decide as their elected leadership, we will respect,” he added.
Meanwhile, the website of the Indian High Commission in the Maldives was hacked and a message displayed stating “Give us Nasheed or we kick the embassy!”
High Commission officials confirmed the website had been targeted twice in the past week, but was quickly repaired.
Ten arrested as protests continue
Demonstrations continued last night in the captial Male’, with a crowd of almost 1000 people beginning a march around the city from near the tsunami monument.
Police Sub-Inspector Hassan Haneef said ten people were arrested, including one minor, for throwing objects such as glass bottles at police.
No police were injured, and no force or pepper-spray was used to control the crowds of 250-500 people at the barricades, Haneef said.
Police have meanwhile released a video of demonstrators throwing objects at police lines during the recent protests, and requested public assistance in identifying the five people highlighted.
“Police request public assistance in identifying the five individuals marked in the video who have committed various felonies which have caused varying degrees of property damage and injured officers and media personnel,” police said in a statement.
“Anyone with any information about the identity or the whereabouts of these five individuals, please contact the Maldives Police Service Hotline at 3322111 or the Criminal Investigation Department at 9631696,” the statement added.