A court in the Maldives has convicted an opposition leader of terrorism and sentenced him to 12 years in jail.

Sheikh Imran Abdulla, leader of the conservative Islamic Adhaalath or Justice Party was found guilty on Tuesday of inciting violence during an anti-government protest last year.

Abdulla is the third high-profile politician to be jailed for terrorism in a year under President Yameen Abdul Gayoom's administration. Gayoom faces local and international criticism for allegedly using the judiciary to punish political opponents.

Former Defense Minister Mohamed Nazim and former President Mohamed Nasheed have also been given lengthy prison terms for terrorism.

Maldives, located in the Indian Ocean, south-southwest of India, is known for its luxury island resorts. The country became a multiparty democracy in 2008 after decades of autocratic rule.