MALÉ: Former Maldives president and opposition leader Mohamed Nasheed has been sentenced to 13 years in prison on a terrorism charge after what rights groups said was a “flawed” trial, sparking international concern over the honeymoon islands.
Nasheed called on his supporters to take to the streets to protest against the sentence after a trial his party said was “blatantly politicised”.
“I appeal to all of you today to stay courageous and strong, to confront the dictatorial power of this regime,” his office quoted him as saying.
Nasheed, the Indian Ocean archipelago´s first democratically elected leader, was convicted late on Friday under the country´s tough anti-terror law of ordering the arrest of a chief judge when he was president in January 2012.
The 47-year-old was then taken to Dhoonidhoo prison on an island near the capital Male.
Nasheed´s lawyers resigned before the end of his brief trial, saying it was biased and aimed at destroying his political career.
It came amid growing opposition to the government of President Abdulla Yameen and will effectively prevent Nasheed from running for president at the 2018 elections.
The opposition has held regular night-time rallies over the past year to protest what they call growing authoritarianism, which has damaged the atoll nation´s image as a tourist paradise.
Local media reported that police clashed with Nasheed´s supporters across Male after the verdict.
Nasheed´s Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) said the verdict dealt a blow to the young democracy seven years after it embraced multi-party elections following three decades of rule by former strongman Maumoon Abdul Gayoom.