The Hulhumale’ Magistrate Court has issued a second arrest warrant for former President Mohamed Nasheed, an official from the Judiciary Media Unity has confirmed.
Five days after Nasheed sought refuge inside the Indian High Commission, the Judiciary Media Unity confirmed to Minivan News that Hulhumale’ Magistrate Court has now issued a new arrest warrant, ordering police to produce Nasheed at the court on February 20 at 4:00pm.
Police Spokesperson Sub Inspector Hassan Haneef also confirmed that the Maldives Police Service had received the court order for Nasheed’s arrest.
The former president has been taking refuge inside the Indian High Commission building in Male’ since February 13 to avoid arrest, after Hulhumale’ court previously ordered police to produce him at his scheduled trial.
Nasheed and his party have maintained that the charges put forward against him – of illegally detaining Chief Criminal Court Judge Abdulla Mohamed during his final days in office – are a politically-motivated attempt to prevent him from contesting presidential elections scheduled for later this year.
The latest arrest warrant comes after Nasheed failed to attend the last two scheduled trial hearings on February 10 and February 13.
An official from the Indian High Commission told Minivan News they were waiting to see the arrest warrant and are “watching the current situation”.
The situation has contributed to an escalation in diplomatic tensions between India and the Maldives, which has accused the former of interference in internal Maldivian affairs.
High Commissioner D M Mulay was summoned to the Foreign Ministry on Sunday and presented with a protest note from the government.
On Monday the High Commission released a statement “denying in entirety” allegations that it was being used by the former President “for political meetings and instigating street violence”.
Thousands of supporters of the former president have been protesting in the capital Male’ since Nasheed moved into the Indian High Commission last Wednesday.
On Saturday (February 16) over 5000 supporters marched through the streets of Male’ clashing with police, which resulted in 55 arrests during the night.
Nasheed’s decision to seek asylum in the Indian High Commission caught the attention of the international community last week. The US, UK, EU, UN and Commonwealth have since urged the Maldivian government to show restraint, whilst calling for “inclusive, free and fair elections” in September.
Arrest warrant is a threat to Nasheed’s life: MDP
Following the news of the latest warrant, Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) Spokesperson Hamid Abdul Ghafoor said that the party are “firmly” against the former President from standing trial in an “illegitimate court”.
“The party firmly believes that he should not go [to Hulhumale’ Magistrate Court] and we firmly believe that the arrest warrant threatens his life.
“The moment he steps out of the Indian High Commission, that will be the end of him. Even the international community have recognised this as a witch hunt,” Ghafoor told Minivan News.
When asked as to whether former president will comply with the court order, Ghafoor said “it is Nasheed’s call”.
“The question is, what do the Indians do now? The Maldives authorities will now have to approach the Indian High Commission and ask them to hand him over.
“The minute the Indian government gave him refuge, they took a position. I can’t see the Indian government dropping Nasheed like a hot potato,” Ghafoor added.
The MDP spokesperson claimed the government had alienated itself from the international community given their stance on the matter. Ghafoor further claimed that foreign governments and organisations “can see” that attempts to arrest Nasheed “are nothing more than a witch hunt”.
India’s involvement criticised by Maldives officials
India’s involvement in the political dispute has been criticised by members of the Maldivian government, with the Home Minister Mohamed Jameel Ahmed tweeting last week: “What’s happening now gives us an indication of the extent and level of interest some countries prepared to take in our internal matters,” he said.
“I would strongly urge everyone to let our institutions deal with the challenges, and allow the Maldives to uphold rule of law,” he tweeted.
President of the Maldives, Mohamed Waheed Hassan Manik released his own statement yesterday condemning Nasheed’s actions on Wednesday.
“I am dismayed that the former President Nasheed sought refuge in the Indian High Commission in Male’ when he was summoned to the court. The court order which required the Police to arrest Nasheed and have him appear before the court was due to his refusal to attend court hearing. It had expired at 1600 hours on the 13 February 2013, and there is no reason for him to remain in the High Commission and to instigate street violence.
“The court order has nothing to do with my government. Upholding the rule of law means nobody is above the law. I would like to assure the people of Maldives that the law and order will be maintained,” the President’s statement read.