Former Defence Minister Mohamed Nazim was taken into custody upon his arrival in Malé on Thursday, and immediately transferred to house imprisonment for a period of 30 days.
Nazim, who was granted medical leave from prison in March, was ordered last week to cut short his trip to Singapore and return to Malé within 48 hours.
The Maldives Correctional Services said Nazim was transferred to house imprisonment because of ongoing maintenance work at the low-security Asseyri Jail on Himmafushi Island.
The former defence minister was sentenced to 11 years in jail on weapons smuggling charges in a trial that drew widespread condemnation over due process violations.
“Nazim is generally in good health, but he requires an eye procedure that we have been unable to begin because we couldn’t extend his medical leave,” his brother Adam Azim said.
“Doctors have also emphasized that he requires a stress-free environment, but jail conditions aren’t very good. It is very inhumane. And he hasn’t committed any crime, he doesn’t deserve to be there.”
He added: “We don’t want Nazim to be under house arrest. We want him to be released. He is innocent.”
Nazim maintains that he was framed by rogue police officers acting on the orders of then-Tourism Minister Ahmed Adeeb.
Adeeb went on to assume the vice presidency, but was impeached and arrested on suspicion of links to a blast on President Abdulla Yameen’s speedboat.
Nazim was granted leave to treat deteriorating eyesight, cardiac issues, and varicose veins. He was ordered to return to the Maldives a week before the initial 21-day period expired. The order came after the retired colonel was photographed with former ruling party MP Ahmed Nazim in Singapore.
The former parliamentarian, sentenced to life in jail last year, was also in Singapore for multiple surgeries. He has since fled to the United Kingdom. The home ministry has also ordered that he return by Thursday.
Yameen is facing international criticism over the jailing of his opponents.
Earlier this month, Adhaalath Party President Sheikh Imran Abdulla and former Defence Minister Tholhath Ibrahim, both of whom are serving jail sentences on terror charges, were also transferred to house imprisonment. The government claims the move was also prompted by maintenance work at the jail and not international pressure.
Former President Mohamed Nasheed, who was sentenced to 13 years in jail on a terrorism charge, is meanwhile in the UK, also on medical leave. The home ministry, which revoked a decision to extend his trip last week, is now reviewing the move.