Maldives Military Arrests Senior Judge

Published January 17, 2012 8:09AM (EST)

MALE, Maldives (AP) — The Maldives' military has arrested the chief justice of the country's criminal court after he released an opposition leader who had been detained without a warrant for allegedly defaming the government.

Monday's arrest of Judge Abdulla Mohamed sparked a brief street protest in the capital of the Indian Ocean archipelago. The arrest of a judge by the military is unprecedented in Maldives, which recently became a multiparty democracy after 30 years of autocratic rule.

The spokesman of the Maldives National Defense Force, Col. Abdul Raheem, refused to comment Tuesday on the arrest.

Opposition activists said it was in retaliation for the judge's ruling that opposition leader Mohamed Jameel Ahmed's detention a day earlier was illegal.

Police arrested Ahmed for allegedly defaming the government during a television interview in which he accused President Mohamed Nasheed's government of working against the state religion, Islam, with the support of Christians and Jews.

Religious debates have gained prominence in this Sunni Muslim nation of 300,000 people where practicing any other faith is forbidden.

By Salon Staff

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