The criminal court has issued arrest warrants for exiled leaders of the Maldives United Opposition, including former President Mohamed Nasheed and Dr Mohamed Jameel Ahmed.
The warrant for Nasheed’s arrest was sought over an investigation into the alleged misuse of state funds during his presidency, the police said in a statement.
It added that the prisons authority has also asked the police to bring Nasheed back to the Maldives to serve the remainder of his 13-year jail term on a terror conviction.
The police were also authorised to arrest and bring back Jameel and Akram Kamaldeen, a senior official of the main opposition Maldivian Democratic Party, for refusing to obey a police summons on August 4, which ordered the pair to return to the Maldives within two weeks for questioning over unspecified charges.
The police had attempted to summon the pair in June on suspicion of links to a forged warrant for Yameen’s arrest.
Akram recently resigned as chairman of the opposition-aligned Raajje TV.
Today’s warrants come after Nasheed and other opposition leaders travelled to Sri Lanka after several months of exile in the United Kingdom, fuelling speculation of President Abdulla Yameen’s imminent ouster.
The MUO has vowed to arrest Yameen on charges of corruption, money laundering, and abuse of power. He has denied any role in a historic corruption scandal involving the theft of some US$80 million from state coffers.
Asked whether the police are seeking the help of Sri Lankan authorities, a spokesman refused to comment.
“We will not be making public the process in which we carry out the court order,” the media official said.
Nasheed was granted political asylum in the UK last May after he was authorised to travel for medical treatment. The opposition leader’s imprisonment on a terrorism charge in March 2015 drew widespread international condemnation and triggered an ongoing political crisis.
Jameel has also been granted political refugee status by the British government.
Jameel fled the Maldives in July last year, days before the parliament impeached him in a controversial vote. He has since been living in self-imposed exile in the UK.
It is unclear whether Jameel and Akram have joined other MUO leaders in Sri Lanka.
The police said today that Nasheed is wanted in connection with an investigation of “a case involving more than MVR1.8 million that was flagged in a 2011 audit report.”
According to the 2011 audit report of the president’s office, MVR1.8 million (US$116,731) was spent on Nasheed’s trips to 88 islands ahead of the February 2011 local council elections.
Last week, the finance ministry also ordered Nasheed and six senior officials of his administration to repay “misused” state funds.
A finance ministry spokesperson said the figures were based on reports by the auditor general’s office and investigations by the anti-graft watchdog.
Critics said the move was aimed at diverting attention from an upcoming corruption exposé by Al Jazeera.
The MDP meanwhile insisted today that officials acted in accordance with the public finance law during Nasheed’s three-year administration.
“If there is a case in relation to an audit report, the state or the government must act in accordance with the rules,” the party said in a brief statement.