The first democratically-elected ex-president of the Maldives, who championed the cause of climate change, was arrested Monday after failing to show up for a court appearance.
Witnesses reported that police used excessive force—including pepper spray and violence—when detaining former President Mohamad Nasheed for allegedly ignoring a court summons.
Nasheed was campaigning in Fares-Maatho island, one of 1,200 islands that make up the country in the Indian Ocean, as he attempts to regain the presidency of the Maldives.
Nasheed is scheduled to stand trial for the alleged arrest of a high court judge during his presidency. Following that arrest and resulting protests, Nasheed resigned in February. He later said he had been forced to step down.
According to The New York Times:
"Mr. Nasheed’s supporters said he had just eaten breakfast at a party member’s home when masked police broke into the house armed in full riot gear, spewing obscenities, and swept the former president out in what his supporters contend was a politically motivated move solely aimed at stopping him from campaigning."
Government officials on Monday denied using excessive force when arresting Nasheed.
His trial is expected to begin Tuesday.