New Delhi: After Maldives’ first democratically elected president was sentenced to 13 years in jail late on Friday night under terrorism charges, India was quick to declare it was “deeply concerned”, with other countries also voicing alarm at the situation in the Indian Ocean archipelago.
The verdict of the criminal court was given on Thursday, within three weeks of Mohamed Nasheed’s arrest on February 23. He was arrested under a domestic terrorism law for ordering the arrest of the Maldives criminal court chief justice in 2012, which triggered the events culminating in his resignation and led to political turmoil.
The European Union, US and UK also issued statements, on the way Nasheed’s trial was conducted.
“India is deeply concerned at developments in the Maldives, monitoring the situation closely,” posted External Affairs Ministry spokesperson Syed Akbaruddin on twitter on Saturday morning. The statement was issued on the last day of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit to Sri Lanka.
Nasheed’s sentencing effectively bars him from contesting the presidential poll in 2018.
Following the international outrage, Ibrahim Muaz Ali, spokesperson of the Maldives President, said Nasheed has a “constitutional guaranteed right of appeal, should he choose to do so”.
Just before the verdict, Nasheed’s office released a message to his supporters, asking them to continue with the street protests.
Ironically, if the Maldives had not precipitated Nasheed’s arrest, Modi may have been on the way to Maldives on Saturday, as planned earlier.
Feb 2012: President Nasheed announces resignation after mutiny by police and demonstrations over the arrest of the chief justice; claims he was ousted in a coup
Feb 2013: Nasheed takes refuge in Indian High Commission in Male
Nov 2013: Abdulla Yaameen elected new president
Feb 2015: Nasheed arrested under anti-terrorism laws
Mar 2015: Awarded 13-year jail term