Police in the Maldives have dragged the country's former president into a court which had ordered his detention while he is tried over his decision to arrest a top judge three years ago.

Mohamed Nasheed, now an opposition leader, fell to the ground after police pushed him in attempts to stop him from speaking to journalists gathered outside the Criminal Court in Male before his first hearing on Monday.

Nasheed was arrested on Sunday and charged under an anti-terrorism law for abusing his powers while president in 2012 by illegally using the military to arrest Criminal Court Judge Abdulla Mohamed. 

The three-judge panel gave Nasheed three days to name his lawyers.

The government says the anti-terrorism law covers not only violent terrorism, but a wide array of actions against the state.

Nasheed resigned as president in 2012 following weeks of public protests against his order to arrest Mohamed.

The judge was arrested after he released a detained opposition politician, and Nasheed's administration accused him of political bias and corruption.

Mohamed was later released from detention.

Court ignored

Nasheed became the country's first democratically elected leader in 2008, defeating Maumoon Abdul Gayyoom, who had ruled for 30 years.

Nasheed then lost to Gayyoom's half-brother, Yameen, in the 2013 presidential election.

The former president's detention comes weeks after a key ally defected from Yameen's ruling coalition to align with Nasheed's opposition Maldivian Democratic Party.

The party accuses the government of repeatedly violating the constitution.

Nasheed is also accused of detaining Mohamed for weeks without trial or legal counsel and ignoring a Supreme Court order to release him.

Source: Agencies