Police in the Maldives have arrested former president Mohamed Nasheed, 10 days after he left the Indian High Commission where he had taken refuge to avoid detention.

A court had ordered police to arrest Nasheed after he missed a February 10 court appearance in a case relating to accusations that he illegally detained a judge during the last days of his rule.

"We have received a court order to arrest him and produce to the court," Maldives police spokesman Hassan Haneef told the Reuters news agency on Tuesday. "We have him in police custody. He will be produced in court tomorrow."

Nasheed entered the Indian High Commission on February 13 and says he left 10 days later on the understanding that he would be able to conduct "peaceful political activity".

The Maldives' first democratically elected leader resigned last year in contested circumstances.

Nasheed and his supporters say he was forced to quit last February in a coup in the tropical Indian Ocean resort archipelago, a major tourist destination.

If Nasheed is found guilty in the case, he could be barred from standing in a presidential election on September 7.

His party says the trial is an attempt to exclude him from the contest and has challenged the court's legitimacy.

Nasheed says he was forced from power at gunpoint after opposition protests and a police mutiny.

A national commission last August said the toppling of his government was not a coup, but a transfer of power that followed the constitution, a ruling that triggered several days of demonstrations.

The Maldives held its first free elections in 2008. Nasheed defeated Maumoon Abdul Gayoom, who had ruled for 30 years and faced criticism from opponents and international human rights groups over his running of the country.

Source: Agencies