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Maldives Opposition Leader Charged in Protest

Sheikh Imran Abdulla, leader of the Islamic conservative Adhaalath Party, or Justice Party, is escorted to court in Male, Maldives, May 2, 2015.

Maldives' prosecutor general charged an opposition leader Tuesday with inciting violence, a month after he was arrested during protests against the imprisonment of the islands' first democratically elected president.

Sheikh Imran Abdulla, who heads the small but influential Islamic Adhaalath Party, was read his charges and told he would be held in detention until the end of his trial, a reporter permitted into the courtroom told Reuters.

Imran and other leaders of main opposition parties were among close to 200 people detained in the capital, Male, on May 1 after protesters, demanding the release of ex-President Mohamed Nasheed, clashed with police.

Nasheed has been in prison since his March conviction for illegally ordering the arrest of a judge in 2012. His jailing triggered condemnation from the United Nations and United States that the trial was unfair and politically motivated.

The Maldives government, led by President Abdulla Yameen since he beat Nasheed in a controversial election in 2013, has said the trial was conducted fairly.

A spokesman for Imran's party said that the charges against him were "politically motivated" and that he had called for the protests to remain lawful. Police said Imran was rearrested Monday after being released May 27, almost four weeks after his initial arrest.

The court hearings of two other opposition politicians, both detained in May, were postponed Tuesday because the men currently are out of the country.

The Maldives, a collection of tropical islands in the Indian Ocean, is struggling to embed democracy after Nasheed's election in 2008 ended 30 years of authoritarian rule.

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