Authorities say the former president of Maldives Mohamed Nasheed was arrested on Tuesday in the island country’s capital Male on charges of abuse of power during his tenure.
According to Reuters, Nasheed, the Maldives’ first democratically elected leader, was taken into custody at 1:45 pm by armed police officers.
His capture comes almost two weeks after he left the Indian High Commission in Male where he had sought refuge for almost 11 days after a warrant was issued for his detention.
Nasheed is charged with ordering the military to unconstitutionally detain the Chief Judge of the Criminal Court Judge Abdulla Mohamed, while he was head of state.
“We have received a court order to arrest him and produce to the court,” Maldives police spokesman Hassan Haneef told Reuters. “…We have him in police custody. He will be produced in court [Wednesday].”
Following Nasheed’s arrest, protesters took to the streets in Malé and there were reports of clashes with government supporters.
Many of the ex-president’s supporters claim the charges against Nasheed are intended to keep him from attempting to reclaim the presidency in elections scheduled for September 7.
“The party is shocked as we do not know the real reason behind his arrest. We do not even know where he is taken. The government has properly planned this just before the elections,” Maldivian Democratic Party member told Xinhua.
Maldivian government officials, however, deny the claims that Nasheed’s arrest is politically motivated. They say the law is just taking its course.
“If you face criminal charges and ignore court summons anywhere in the world, the police will come to take you in … This is normal practice. But it is unlikely there will be any sentence tomorrow,” a senior government official told the Associated Press.
The official added it was likely Nasheed would walk free after the hearing on Wednesday.