Ex-Maldives leader asks for more prison leave

23rd February 2016, Comments 0 comments

Former Maldives president Mohamed Nasheed has requested two more months' leave from prison after travelling to London for urgent medical treatment, the honeymoon island nation's government said Tuesday.

Nasheed, whose conviction and jailing last year on terror-related charges has been widely criticised, was allowed to fly to Britain for 30 days to receive spinal surgery.

His leave expired on Monday, but the Maldivian High Commission in Colombo said he had been granted more time to complete his application for a two-month extension.

"Nasheed has been given more time to complete his application for medical leave," the High Commission said in a statement, without giving more details.

The 48-year-old was accorded a red carpet welcome and received by Prime Minister David Cameron after arriving in Britain in January.

Nasheed's legal team includes the high-profile human rights lawyer Amal Clooney.

He told reporters at the time that he had not yet decided whether to return to the Maldives to resume his 13-year jail sentence.

Nasheed's party confirmed that he had applied for an extension and was prepared to submit any documents the government required.

Aishath Azima Shakoor, Maldives' minister for legal affairs in the president's office, told reporters in Colombo last month that an extension request would be viewed favourably.

The Maldives government originally granted him leave in a deal brokered by Sri Lanka, India and former colonial power Britain.

The Maldives, a popular upmarket tourist destination, has been gripped by political turmoil and faced international criticism for an alleged crackdown on dissent.

The island atoll last week jailed the leader of its main Islamist party for 12 years on a terror charge, sparking fresh outrage from Western nations.

Sheikh Imran Abdullam, a Nasheed supporter, was charged with inciting unrest during an anti-government rally.

Nasheed became the first democratically elected president of the Maldives in 2008 and served for four years before he was toppled in what he called a coup backed by the military and police.

He was jailed on terrorism charges relating to the arrest of an allegedly corrupt judge in 2012, when he was still in power.

© 2016 AFP

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