MALE, MALDIVES (AP) — Maldives' ex-president Mohamed Nasheed did not appear for a court hearing on Monday to face charges that he illegally ordered the arrest of a judge, a move that led to his ouster early this year.
Nasheed — who has said he was forced from office in a coup d'etat — also openly defied the court's order by leaving the capital in a fishing boat to another island to engage in his election campaign.
Hulhumale Magistrate Court last week ordered Nasheed to appear before court on Monday and also not to leave the capital, Male, without the court's permission.
There was no immediate comment from Nasheed as to why he skipped Monday's court proceedings. But his party has earlier criticized the order as politically motivated and said he may not get a fair trial.
It also said the Hulhumale court itself was created in violation of the constitution and therefore is illegal.
Nasheed was a democracy activist and political prisoner before becoming president in the Maldives's first multiparty election in 2008.
He resigned as president in February after losing the support of the military and police during widespread protests triggered by the secret arrest of a senior judge.
He later insisted that he was forced out in a coup, but an inquiry commission concluded that he left office legally. He was charged in July with illegally ordering the judge's arrest.
Nasheed's Maldivian Democratic Party last week said the notice of criminal proceedings issued by the court was politically motivated and aimed at preventing Nasheed from campaigning ahead of next year's elections.
But Abbas Riza, spokesman for current President Mohammed Waheed Hassan, last week rejected that allegation, saying the court order was "the usual practice, according to the country's law."
Nasheed's supporters have held frequent protests in recent months demanding early elections. Hassan has said he will hold elections in July 2013, the earliest time permitted by the constitution.