Ex-Maldives leader’s 13-year term commuted to house arrest

Maldives police try to move former president Mohamed Nasheed (centre) during a scuffle as he arrives at a courthouse in Male on Febuary 23, 2015.
Maldives police try to move former president Mohamed Nasheed (centre) during a scuffle as he arrives at a courthouse in Male on Febuary 23, 2015. PHOTO: AFP

COLOMBO (AFP) - Former Maldivian president Mohamed Nasheed has had his 13-year prison sentence commuted to a term under house arrest, his international lawyer Jared Genser said Friday (July 24).  

“The government of the Maldives has permanently moved president Nasheed to house arrest for the balance of his 13-year term in prison", Genser told reporters in Colombo, the capital of neighbouring Sri Lanka.  

The lawyer’s comments came hours after the Maldives government said it would appeal against Nasheed’s conviction for terrorism in March which drew heavy international criticism.  

A spokesman for the Maldivian High Commision in Colombo confirmed the changes to Nasheed’s sentence, but said he had no further details.  

“It is correct that the jail term is now commuted to house arrest,” Hussain Mazin told AFP. 

Nasheed had been incarcerated in a prison on a remote island in the immediate aftermath of the sentencing in March.  

But Genser said that his client had been moved back to the main island of Male to receive medical treatement and his sentence was formally commuted to house arrest on July 19. 

The US-based attorney said that his own efforts to see Nasheed had been so far thwarted by the Maldivian authorities.  

He told reporters that he had applied for a business visa and complied with all the requirements, but on his arrival in Male on Monday he was told that he needed another clearance from the Maldivian Supreme Court certifying that he was licenced to practise law internationally.  

“There is no Maldivian law, regulation, or rule that imposes such a requirement on applicants for business visas who are lawyers - it appears the Supreme Court specially designed this requirement just for me,” he said.  

“I am honoured to be considered so important, but this is unusual,” he added.