Clashes erupt in Maldives after top court orders release of opposition leaders

Source: Xinhua| 2018-02-02 16:33:50|Editor: Jiaxin
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MALE, Feb. 2 (Xinhua) -- Clashes erupted in the Maldives between police and protesters on Friday as supporters of former President Mohamed Nasheed took to the streets celebrating a ruling by the Supreme Court to release the former president and other opposition leaders.

Police fired tear gas to disperse opposition supporters who had gathered in the capital Male while riot police urged people not to take part in any protests and asked everyone to immediately leave, local media reported.

Teargas was used to break up the crowds who had been filling the capital's streets since late Thursday evening.

Defence Minister Adam Shareef urged people to exercise restraint "for the sake of harmony," warning that if things escalate, it could be a time of a national security crisis.

The Maldivian Supreme Court on Thursday ordered the immediate release of all high-profile prisoners, including former President Mohamed Nasheed and former Vice President Ahmed Adeeb.

The court said in a brief statement that the prisoners must be freed until fair trials could be conducted without undue influence.

Nasheed, who was elected into office in 2008, was ousted in a coup in February 2012.

He was sentenced to 13 years in jail in 2015 on terrorism charges after allegedly ordering the arrest of a judge during his presidency.