Male’, Maldives – Criminal Court, on Thursday, has confirmed that hearings over sexual harassment and assault allegations raised against the former Minister of Tourism Ali Waheed, are scheduled to take place on Sunday.
Given the sensitive nature of the case, the preliminary hearings set to take place in the afternoon will not be made public. The case shall be presided over by Judge Hassan Saeed. The Prosecutor General’s Office (PGO) filed a total of seven charges of sexual abuse against Waheed on November 18, 2020.
These charges include two counts of sexual abuse, two counts of unlawful sexual contact, one count of attempted sexual abuse, indecent exposure and one count of attempted rape. If found guilty of the charges levied against him, Waheed faces up to 21 years imprisonment, however, he continues to plead not guilty on all counts.
President Ibrahim Mohamed Solih ordered Waheed’s resignation on July 8, following complaints regarding incidents of misconduct within the tourism ministry, which were lodged by the ministry staff at the President’s Office and the Ministry of Gender, Family and Social Services. Waheed was fired on July 9, marking the first time a cabinet minister was fired over allegations of sexual abuse after he failed to tender his resignation as per the order.
Earlier, during a press conference held on July 16, Chief Inspector Mariyam Azma revealed that the sexual harassment case against Ali Waheed was formally lodged at the authorities on July 9, after which the police collected statements from a total of 15 individuals. After being summoned to Maldives Police Service for the first time since the claims surfaced, Waheed described the accusations against him to the media as a politically motivated matter.
Waheed is among a number of politicians facing accusations, amid a string of high and low profile sexual abuse, sexual assault and harassment cases that surfaced in 2020. Several protests have been held by various rights groups and activists in the past, demanding perpetrators and authorities to be held accountable and justice ensured for victims and survivors.