Maldives' Top Court Suspends Exiled President Mohamed Nasheed's Jail Term
Maldives' former president Mohamed Nasheed (L) with president-elect Ibrahim Mohamed Solih (R) (Photo: Twitter)

The Maldives Supreme Court on Tuesday suspended a 13-year jail sentence given to the country's exiled former president Mohamed Nasheed until it reviews his conviction. This ruling came after a request was filed by the country’s prosecutor general.

The court ordered that the government, police and prison authorities adhere to the suspension of the sentence for the country’s first democratically-elected leader Mohamed Nasheed. The order came two days before Nasheed is to return to the Maldives after living in exile for more than two years. The ruling appears to be a move by the incoming president-elect Ibrahim Mohamed Solih to prevent his arrest on arrival. Ibrahim Mohamed Solih, was a joint opposition candidate, who defeated incumbent Abdulla Yameen.

The prosecutor general's office on Sunday sought a Supreme Court review of Nasheed's conviction under the country's tough terrorism law for ordering the military to detain a top judge when he was president in 2012. Nasheed had said he will return to the Maldives on November 1.

His trial was criticized internationally for lack of due process, along with the trials of many other political opponents jailed by outgoing President Abdul Yameen's administration. He was offered asylum in Britain when he went there for medical treatment on leave from prison. He later based himself in neighboring Sri Lanka for political work.

Nasheed, a pro-democracy activist, became the archipelago state's first president elected in a multiparty election in 2008, following decades of autocratic rule. He became popular as an environment crusader holding an underwater Cabinet meeting to highlight the perils of global warming and rising sea levels.

He resigned in 2012 amid public protests over his decision to detain the judge and lost the 2013 presidential election to Yameen, who has rolled back much of the country's democratic gains.

This ruling also comes a fortnight after the top court ruled against the challenge mounted by outgoing President Abdulla Yameen against the election results. Yameen’s lawyers had challenged in court that the results were manipulated and supporters of Yameen were hindered from voting through elaborate schemes such as ‘disappearing ink’ and ‘ring that erases ink.’ The top court threw out the challenge on the basis of lack of evidence and Yameen has since resigned himself to demitting office on November 17. (With PTI inputs)