US concerned over Maldivian ex-president's jail sentence

The US is concerned over the trial of former Maldives president Mohamed Nasheed who was sentenced to 13 years in jail, the embassy said in a statement on Saturday.

Colombo: The US is concerned over the trial of former Maldives president Mohamed Nasheed who was sentenced to 13 years in jail, the embassy said in a statement on Saturday.

The US was concerned with the apparent lack of appropriate criminal procedures during the trial of Nasheed, who was found guilty on Friday and sentenced to 13 years in prison, Xinhua news agency reported citing the statement.

"We are particularly troubled by reports that the trial was conducted in a manner contrary to Maldivian law and Maldives` international obligations to provide the minimum fair trial guarantees and other protections under the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR)," the statement by the US embassy to Maldives and Sri Lanka here said.

According to the statement, this includes the denial of legal representation to former president Nasheed during the first hearing and concerns regarding the lack of impartiality and independence of the judges.

The US called on the government of Maldives to take steps to restore confidence in its commitment to democracy and the rule of law, including judicial independence, and to ensure fundamental rights were respected, including freedom of speech and of the press as well as the right to peaceful assembly and peaceful protest.

"We urge the government to ensure former president Nasheed`s safety and well being in custody, and we hope all Maldivians will express their views peacefully," the statement added.

Nasheed`s final hearing on Friday evening sparked protests with police arresting at least one demonstrator. Many human rights activists have condemned the trial as unfair and politically motivated, which the Maldives government has denied.

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