Court summons Maldives ex-president Mohamed Nasheed

forensics Police say they are yet to establish a motive for the murder of Dr Afrasheem Ali

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Judges in the Maldives have issued a summons for the country's ex-president to appear in court next week, after he boycotted the start of his trial.

Mohamed Nasheed, who resigned in February in what he said was a coup, is charged with abuse of power.

Mr Nasheed failed to turn up at court on Monday and defied a travel ban.

Meanwhile, the Indian Ocean nation is in shock after the brutal murder of a member of parliament, the first such killing in the country's history.

Dr Afrasheem Ali - whose party is a member of the governing coalition - was stabbed to death near his home early on Tuesday.

There are unconfirmed reports that a man, a member of a gang, has been arrested for the murder. Police say they are yet to establish a motive for the killing.

Tributes have come from across the political spectrum in this polarised society, which is split over the legacy of the first democratically elected president, Mr Nasheed, says the BBC's Charles Haviland in Male.

Mr Nasheed resigned in February in the midst of a police and military rebellion.

On Monday, he left the capital on a party campaign trip in outlying islands, forcing the postponement of his trial for overreaching his powers while in office.

The government has now announced that the police have been asked to produce him in court at a rescheduled hearing next Sunday.

That raises the prospect of Mr Nasheed being taken into custody while on his trip, our correspondent says.

UN tribute

At the cemetery in Male where Dr Ali was buried, seven members of the military fired shots in his honour in the presence of hundreds of Maldivians.

The United Nations paid tribute to him as an accomplished scholar. Colleagues and friends said he was a key proponent of moderate stances in Islamic observance, defending the right of believers to enjoy music or not to wear beards, our correspondent says.

Dr Ali was found dead by his wife outside their block of flats, having been stabbed four times in the back of the head and with wounds to his chest and neck.

He belonged to the party of another former President, Maumoon Abdul Gayoon, who ruled the Maldives for 30 years from 1978.

The UN joined politicians from the Maldives in condemning the murder.

President Mohamed Waheed called it a "remorseless and foul act" and the president's media secretary sent out a text describing the murdered MP as the "strongest critic" of Mr Nasheed.

Diplomatic sources said, however, that they did not know of any animosity between Mr Nasheed and the victim, our correspondent says.

Mr Nasheed, who defeated Mr Gayoon in the country's first democratic elections, says charges against him relating to alleged abuse of power are politically motivated.

His supporters hail him as a reformist moderate but his critics say he overreached his powers while in office.

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