Male, Aug 31 (IANS) A Maldives criminal court on Wednesday issued arrest warrants for exiled leaders of the Maldives United Opposition (MUO), including former President Mohamed Nasheed.
The warrant for Nasheed’s arrest was sought over an investigation into the alleged misuse of state funds during his term as the Pesidenct, Maldives Independent reported a police official as saying.
The prisons authority has also asked the police to bring Nasheed back to Maldives to serve the remainder of his 13-year jail term on a terror conviction.
The court also authorised the police to arrest and bring back former Vice President Mohamed Jameel and Akram Kamaldeen, a senior official of the main opposition Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) who refused to obey August 4 police summons that ordered their return to the country within two weeks for questioning over unspecified charges.
The police had attempted to summon the pair in June on suspected links to a forged warrant for President Abdulla Yameen’s arrest.
Akram recently resigned as the Chairman of the opposition-aligned Raajje TV.
Nasheed and other opposition leaders travelled to Sri Lanka after several months of exile in Britain, fuelling speculation of Yameen’s imminent ouster.
The MUO has vowed to arrest Yameen on charges of corruption, money laundering, and abuse of power. He has denied any role in a corruption scandal involving theft of some US $80 million from state coffers.
Asked whether the police is seeking the help of Sri Lankan authorities, a spokesman refused to comment.
“We will not be making public the process in which we carry out the court order,” the media official said.
Nasheed was granted political asylum in Britain in May 2015 after he was authorised to travel for medical treatment. The opposition leader’s imprisonment on charge of terrorism in March 2015 drew widespread international condemnation and triggered an ongoing political crisis.
Jameel has also been granted political refugee status by the British government as he fled from Maldives in July, 2015, days before the Parliament impeached him in a controversial vote. He has since been living in self-imposed exile in the UK.
It is unclear whether Jameel and Akram have joined other MUO leaders in Sri Lanka.
The police said on Wednesday that Nasheed is wanted in connection with an investigation of “a case involving more than MVR1.8 million that was flagged in a 2011 audit report.”
According to the 2011 audit report of the President’s office, MVR1.8 million (US$116,731) was spent on Nasheed’s trips to 88 islands ahead of the February 2011 local council elections.
Last week, the Finance Ministry also ordered Nasheed and six senior officials of his administration to repay “misused” state funds.
A Finance Ministry spokesperson said the figures were based on reports by the auditor general’s office and investigations by the anti-graft watchdog.
The MDP insisted that officials acted in accordance with the public finance law during Nasheed’s three-year administration.
“If there is a case in relation to an audit report, the state or the government must act in accordance with the rules,” the party said in a brief statement.