Additional reporting by Mariyath Mohamed
The Hulhumale’ Magistrate Court has issued an order to the Maldives Police Service for the arrest of former President Mohamed Nasheed, asking them to bring him to a court hearing at 4:00PM on Tuesday.
Sub-Inspector Hassan Haneef confirmed that the new warrant gives the police powers of arrest after a previous warrant allowed them only to present the defendant in court with his consent.
The order has been issued in relation to the case of Nasheed’s arrest of Criminal Court Chief Judge Abdulla Mohamed last year.
Punishment for a person guilty of this offence is imprisonment or banishment for three years, or a fine of MVR 2,000 (US$129.70).
Nasheed was initially summoned to the court on October 1. After he failed to attend this hearing, instead heading to the southern atolls to campaign, the court ordered police to present him at the next hearing, scheduled for Sunday October 7.
Nasheed then sent a request to the Hulhumale’ Magistrate Court on Friday asking for the hearing to be rescheduled. The court rejected the appeal, saying that campaigning was not listed as a reason for absence in the legislation regarding summons.
He had planned to return to Male’ on Saturday October 13. No spokesman from the Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) was able to respond to calls at the time of press.
Earlier today, the high court rejected former Nasheed’s appeal challenging the legitimacy of Hulhumale’ Magistrate Court, and its summoning of him in connection with this case.
Former MP and President of MDP Ibrahim ‘Ibra’ Ismail has also cast doubt on the validity of the Hulhumale court’s rulings.
“There is more than ample grounds to contend that the summons was issued by an unlawful panel of judges, sitting in an unlawful court, which had already issued an unconstitutional restraining order which was ultra vires,” said Ibra on his personal blog.
Last week, the MDP vowed to ignore all rulings made by the courts until judicial reforms were introduced.
Nasheed did not return to Male’ for today’s hearing, following which the court issued the current arrest warrant.
The high court has ruled that the order to arrest Nasheed and present him in court on Tuesday cannot be appealed.
An arrest warrant was issued for Nasheed – for unspecified charges – shortly after his resignation in February although he was never detained by police.
Nasheed was arrested more than twenty times under the regime of 30-year president Maumoon Abdul Gayoom.
Since leaving the President’s Office, Nasheed has maintained that figures loyal to the former regime were behind his ousting, although the Commission of National Inquiry’s (CNI) final report in August found otherwise.
Nasheed is also currently facing civil court proceedings related to the defamation – labelling as traitors – the current minister of defence and police commissioner, both installed immediately following his resignation.