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Maldives detains 175 supporters of ex-president Nasheed

AFP  |  Male 

Maldives authorities have detained 175 supporters of jailed former president Mohamed Nasheed for two weeks, according to court documents today, after the US warned that democracy was in danger on the honeymoon islands.

Police fired tear gas and baton-charged protesters demanding Nasheed's release at a demonstration in the tiny capital island of Male on Friday night, arresting 193 people.

The opposition described it as the biggest anti-government protest since Nasheed was imprisoned for 13 years in March on a terrorism charge for ordering the arrest of an allegedly corrupt judge in 2012.

Today, a list at the Maldives' criminal court showed that 18 demonstrators had been released and 175 would be held in custody for two weeks.

Nasheed's opposition Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) said one of its top officials, chairman Ali Waheed, was among those being held, along with leaders of two other opposition parties.

"Our chairman has been accused of encouraging violence, vandalism and attacks on security personnel," MDP spokeswoman Shauna Aminath told AFP.

Nasheed, the Maldives' first democratically-elected leader, was toppled in February 2012 after a mutiny by police and troops. It followed weeks of protests over his order to arrest a top judge who had been appointed by former leader Maumoon Abdul Gayoom.

Nasheed was handed his lengthy jail term after what the UN called a "vastly unfair trial".

His legal team has filed a petition with the UN arguing that his detention is a violation of international law.

US Secretary of State John Kerry, on a visit to neighbouring Sri Lanka yesterday, said there were "troubling signs that democracy is under threat in the Maldives", adding that Nasheed had been imprisoned "without due process".

Abdulla Yameen, the half brother of Gayoom, controversially beat Nasheed in an election run-off in late 2013 despite trailing in the first round.

In a recent report Amnesty International said protesters in the Maldives were frequently beaten up while the media faced a growing number of death threats.

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First Published: Sun, May 03 2015. 20:28 IST