Lawyers for Maldives ex-leader quit over 'biased' trial

COLOMBO (AFP) - Lawyers for former Maldives president Mohamed Nasheed have quit in protest against what they call a biased trial aimed at destroying his political career, the party said Tuesday.

The four-member legal team have withdrawn from the trial which began three days after his Feb 22 arrest on charges of terrorism, Nasheed's Maldivian Democratic Party said in a statement released in Colombo.

"President Nasheed's legal team withdrew their counsel... stating that inherent biases in Nasheed's trial mean it is impossible to mount a proper defence," the statement said.

The statement added that Nasheed, the country's first democratically elected leader, was being denied medical attention.

He was arrested over the detention of criminal court judge Abdullah Mohamed in 2012, when Nasheed was still president.

The United States and regional power India have voiced concern over the charges, which carry a jail sentence of more than 10 years.

The controversial trial comes amid growing opposition to the government of President Abdulla Yameen, who has denied that the move to prosecute Nasheed was politically motivated.

Hundreds of supporters have been protesting in the tiny capital island Male on a regular basis since Nasheed's arrest.

Nasheed resigned as the Maldives' leader in February 2012 after a mutiny by police and troops that followed weeks of protests over the arrest of judge Mohamed on corruption allegations.

Charges against Nasheed were dropped on February 16, but he was re-prosecuted six days later. He denies any wrongdoing.

He has been refused bail and ordered to remain in police custody until the conclusion of a trial that his party says will not be fair.