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Maldives ex-president arrested

The Maldives' first democratically elected leader has been arrested. The former statesman Mohamed Nasheed had failed to turn up for a trial against him over his conduct in office.

Maldivian police on Monday arrested and detained the country's former president Mohamed Nasheed, after he failed to attend court for the start of a trial against him for alleged abuse of power.

"Nasheed has been placed [under] custody now according to the court order issued yesterday," police spokesman Hassan Haneef told Reuters.

"He will be taken to Male. He is in one of the atolls now. He was arrested around 9.45 [local time]. It went peacefully and he cooperated. He will be produced to the court tomorrow 1600 hours," Haneef said.

A special court on Sunday ordered the ex-president's arrest. Nasheed had been summoned to court over the alleged detention of a judge during his final days in office, but had failed twice to comply with orders to attend hearings for the case and remain in the capital.

A court official said the arrest warrant would enable authorities to "keep Mr Nasheed in custody until he is produced before the court."

If convicted as a result of the case against him, the former statesman could face three years in prison or be confined to a remote island, a punishment which would preclude him from participating in future elections.

Nasheed, who was the victor in the Maldives' first democratic elections in 2008, has argued that he is not guaranteed a fair trial.

sej/msh (Reuters, AFP)