October 5, 2015 / 6:45 PM / 2 years ago

Lawyers seek sanctions in bid to free jailed ex-president of Maldives

LONDON (Reuters) - Lawyers working to release the jailed former president of the Maldives are seeking travel bans and targeted sanctions against top Maldivian officials as they step up efforts to free the islands’ first democratically elected leader.

Lawyer Amal Clooney (L) sits with Laila Ali, the wife of Mohammed Nasheed, during a news conference in central London, Britain October 5, 2015. REUTERS/Peter Nicholls

Mohamed Nasheed was ousted in 2012 for ordering the arrest of a judge and is serving a 13-year jail term after a rapid trial in March.

The United States and human rights groups are among those to have said President Abdullah Yameen’s government failed to follow due process and that the case against Nasheed was politically motivated.

A report from the United Nations Working Group on Arbitrary Detention (WGAD) which finished examining the issue in September called for Nasheed’s immediate release but Yameen’s administration said last week that it rejected the decision.

Jared Genser, working with international human rights lawyer Amal Clooney, said Nasheed’s legal team would now be pushing governments to introduce specific financial sanctions and travel restrictions to pressure the administration in Male.

“A list is being developed with highly detailed information about perpetrators in the Maldives that will be the basis for our discussions with governments,” Genser told reporters at a news conference in London.

“The only thing that the government of the Maldives is going to understand is direct action and that’s what we need to do.”

The Maldivian Foreign Ministry said last week that the archipelago “would not be made to act on the basis of a non-binding opinion” from the U.N. body, but that the issue had been referred to its Supreme Court, which will rule on the case.

WGAD said in its report that Nasheed, who was convicted of terrorism, did not receive a fair trial and that several factors showed his conviction was “politically motivated”.

Reporting by Costas Pitas; Editing by Alison Williams

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