Maldivian court issues second arrest warrant for Nasheed

Male, Feb 18 (IANS) A Maldivian court Monday issued a second arrest warrant for former president Mohamed Nasheed, who has been staying in the Indian High Commission since Feb 13.

The Hulhumale magistrate court has issued a new arrest warrant, ordering police to present Nasheed at the court on Feb 20 at 4 p.m, an official from the Judiciary Media Unity has confirmed to MinivanNews.

Police spokesperson, Sub-Inspector Hassan Haneef also confirmed that the Maldives Police Service has received the court order for Nasheed's arrest, the daily said.

The former president has taken refuge inside the Indian High Commission building in Male since Feb 13 to avoid arrest after the Hulhumale court ordered police to present him at his scheduled trial.

Nasheed and his party have maintained that the charges 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 the Sep 7 presidential elections.

The latest arrest warrant comes after Nasheed failed to attend the last two scheduled trial hearings on Feb 10 and Feb 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 neighbour of interference in internal Maldivian affairs.

Indian High Commissioner D.M. Mulay was summoned to the foreign ministry Sunday and presented a protest note from the government, the daily said.

On Monday, the Indian 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 Male since Nasheed moved into the Indian High Commission last Wednesday.

On Saturday, over 5,000 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, Britain, EU, UN and Commonwealth have since urged the Maldivian government to show restraint whilst calling for "inclusive, free and fair elections" in September.

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