Dispute over Maldives ex-president's medical travel resolved

AP News
Posted: Jan 18, 2016 12:06 PM

COLOMBO, Sri Lanka (AP) — The government of the Maldives said Monday that the country's imprisoned former president has departed for Britain for surgery after a dispute over conditions imposed by the government was resolved.

Mohamed Nasheed left the country Monday night for surgery on his spine, a day after he said the government had asked a family member to remain a virtual hostage to guarantee his return.

Home Minister Umar Naseer said Nasheed's brother has agreed to be his guarantor but will not be held responsible for the former president's return and will not be restricted to the capital.

The government said in a separate statement that Nasheed has signed a guarantee document agreeing to return to the Maldives to serve the remaining years of his sentence.

He is nearing one year of his 13-year sentence.

"It is standard procedure for any prisoner who applies to travel abroad, for medical treatment, to sign a guarantee," the statement quoted Foreign Minister Dunya Maumoon as saying.

" I am glad all relevant legal documentation is completed. Throughout this period the government has acted in good faith. We ask that Mr. Nasheed and his representatives in turn abide by the agreement signed and agreed today," she said.

Nasheed is convicted of ordering the military to arrest a senior judge when he was in power in 2012. His trial and conviction drew widespread international criticism for an apparent lack of due process.

The United Nations working group on arbitrary detention has said Nasheed's imprisonment was improper and called for his immediate release.

Nasheed was elected president in the country's first democratic election in 2008, ending 30 years of autocratic rule by current President Yameen Abdul Gayoom's half-brother.

He resigned within four years of being elected amid weeks of public protests over the judge's arrest.

Maldives is best known for its luxurious island resorts.