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Ex-Maldives president taken back to prison despite commutation of sentence to house arrest

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COLOMBO, Sri Lanka — Maldives police have taken former President Mohamed Nasheed back to jail even though his 13-year sentence was commuted to house arrest last month, a party spokesman said Monday.

Hamid Abdul Ghafoor, spokesman for Nasheed's Maldivian Democratic Party, said police and Department of Corrections officials arrived at Nasheed's house in the capital of Male on Sunday night and took him away. He was last seen leaving Male on a speedboat, apparently headed to an island jail, Ghafoor said.

"The retraction of permanent commutation of Nasheed's sentence to house arrest and his transfer back to the country's maximum security jail in Maafushi island is illegal," Ghafoor said in a statement.

It was not immediately clear why Nasheed would be jailed again, and there was no comment from the government. A Maldivian embassy spokesman in Colombo did not answer phone calls.

Last month, the government said the prosecutor general would appeal Nasheed's jail sentence after finding irregularities in his trial. Since then, Nasheed had been held under house arrest.

Nasheed's lawyers say their client was not given a fair hearing, wasn't given enough time to prepare for his defense, and his appeal was blocked by a delay in issuing case documents.

The trial sparked daily protests and drew widespread international condemnation.

Nasheed was sentenced in March after a court found him guilty of ordering the military to detain a senior judge when he was president three years ago. It said the detention was akin to abduction, a crime under the country's terrorism law.

The prosecutor general initially refused to file an appeal. The reversal came as relations warmed between President Yameen Abdul Gayoom'a administration and Nasheed's party. In recent weeks members of the party have voted with the ruling party on several key issues.

PHOTO: FILE- In this March 15, 2015 file photo, Maldives former President Mohamed Nasheed waves sitting in a boat as he is taken back to Dhoonidhoo prison after a court dismissed his appeal against his arrest in Male, Maldives. A party spokesman says Maldives police have taken Nasheed back to jail Sunday night even though his detention was formally commuted to house arrest last month. (AP Photo/ Mohamed Sharuhaan, file)
FILE- In this March 15, 2015 file photo, Maldives former President Mohamed Nasheed waves sitting in a boat as he is taken back to Dhoonidhoo prison after a court dismissed his appeal against his arrest in Male, Maldives. A party spokesman says Maldives police have taken Nasheed back to jail Sunday night even though his detention was formally commuted to house arrest last month. (AP Photo/ Mohamed Sharuhaan, file)

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