A court in the Maldives has refused to hear the case against former president Mohamed Nasheed, saying it does not have jurisdiction to rule in the case. Nasheed was formally charged earlier this month with illegally arresting a former chief justice of the nation's criminal court and thereby violating the nation's constitution [text, PDF]. The constitution allows for the arrest of a judge only after a warrant is issued for a particular criminal act, suspicion of such conduct alone being insufficient. However in January the former president unilaterally ordered the arrest [JURIST report] of the Chief Justice Abdulla Mohamed on corruption charges. Prosecutors said on Monday that a court outside of the capital city of Male refused to hear the case because of location. They had filed the case outside the capital to avoid any conflict of interest [AP report] but said Monday that they would explore other legal options.
The arrest of the chief justice and the resulting unrest in Maldives sparked weeks of tension and unrest that drew international attention. Earlier this month the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) claimed that press freedom in the country has been deteriorating since Nasheed's resignation in February [JURIST reports]. In April the Maldives Police Service referred the case against Nasheed to the Prosecutor's General Office two months after an arrest warrant [JURIST reports] against him was issued. Nasheed has claimed that the arrest and charges against him were politically motivated. A group of Maldives lawyers in January asked [JURIST report] the International Criminal Court (ICC) [official website; JURIST backgrounder] to review the legality of the arrest of Chief Justice Abdulla Mohamed. During the same month, the Maldives Minister of Foreign Affairs had asked [JURIST report] the UN to help them to resolve the unrest arising out of the arrest of the chief justice.