COLOMBO - The Maldives government Monday vowed to resist mounting foreign pressure to free former president Mohamed Nasheed after he was jailed for 13 years but admitted its justice system was below international standards.

Foreign Minister Dunya Maumoon, the daughter of former strongman Maumoon Abdul Gayoom, told reporters in Sri Lanka that her government would not interfere with the decision of courts which she insisted were independent.

The United States, European Union and India have all expressed concern at last week’s jailing of Nasheed for ordering the detention of a judge in 2012 when he was president.

“A free and fair trial has happened. A verdict has come,” Maumoon said, adding that President Abdulla Yameen - who is also her uncle - “has asked the whole world to respect that”.

Nasheed’s Maldivian Democratic Party has urged international pressure, particularly from neighbouring India, on Yameen’s regime to free him.

The decision to prosecute Nasheed, who was the honeymoon islands’ first democratically-elected president, under terror laws has made his conviction particularly controversial and sparked a series of protests.

Maumoon said no compromise was possible on judiciary matters and denied allegations that criminal court judges were uneducated, corrupt and politically biased.

“I have consistently said that India respects our sovereignty and our independence,” she said. “While on the basis of the friendship, we can discuss concerns and have a dialogue.

“But I don’t think India nor any other country would be giving us directions...on a particular matter.” However, she said Nasheed had the right to appeal.

Maumoon said the Maldives was not the first country in the region to jail an opposition leader and former presidents and prime ministers had been hauled before courts in neighbouring Sri Lanka, India and Bangladesh.

Maldivian Attorney General Mohamed Anil said they had followed “due process”, even though the country’s judicial system was not up to internationally accepted standards.

“We are vigorously working on that,” he told reporters in Colombo.

Rights group Amnesty International has said the proceedings were “deeply flawed” and called the conviction “unsound.”

Anil said the country’s main Maafushi prison was building a special isolation cell to hold Nasheed and he would not be kept with other convicts. “It is a VIP cell with airconditioning and TV,” Anil said. “It will be ready in about a week.” In the meantime, Nasheed, 47, is being held in police custody.