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U.N. urges action from Maldives over trial of ex-president

1 May 2015 - 53   - 0

MALE/GENEVA (Reuters) - A senior U.N. human rights official said on Friday she had visited jailed former Maldives president Mohamed Nasheed for two hours in detention and urged the government to take action on his flawed trial. "We kind of started to get signals that even the government recognises that something went wrong with the process of the trial," Mona Rishmawi, chief of the rule of law, equality and non-discrimination branch of the U.N. Human Rights Office, told a regular U.N. briefing. "We would like to see this translate into concrete political action and see something happening in this case... What is very clear is that the president still has clemency powers.” She was speaking as supporters of the jailed former president took to the tropical island's streets to call for his release. Nasheed, the country's first democratically elected leader, was imprisoned in March for his role in ordering the arrest of a senior judge, after a trial that the U.N. high commissioner for human rights said was marked by "flagrant irregularities". The country is increasingly polarised between Nasheed's supporters and those who back current President Abdulla Yameen, whose half-brother lost power to Nasheed in 2008, ending 30 years of authoritarian rule. Clashes broke out in February in the run-up to Nasheed's sentencing, although small-scale protests have since remained largely peaceful. Rishmawi said Nasheed's trial had been politically motivated and the Maldives legal system was "totally incomplete", with makeshift rules and judges wielding "incredible discretionary powers". "What we saw is that the rules have been really changed to lead to a certain result," she said. [caption id="attachment_75198" align="alignright" width="300"]Opposition leader and former Maldives' President Mohamed Nasheed arrives at Mal'e City with police officers, for the first hearing of the trial held at Criminal Court in Male, February 23, 2015. REUTERS/Waheed Mohamed Opposition leader and former Maldives' President Mohamed Nasheed arrives at Mal'e City with police officers, for the first hearing of the trial held at Criminal Court in Male, February 23, 2015. REUTERS/Waheed Mohamed[/caption]  

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