Malé, Maldives – The Prosecutor General of Maldives Hussain Shameem has raised concerns over the procedural practices followed in releasing the passport of former Tourism Minister Ali Waheed, who was sacked over sexual harassment of female employees.
In a press brief released by the Prosecutor General’s Office (PGO), issues were highlighted regarding the procedural practices followed by the Criminal Court in releasing the passport of Ali Waheed, and revealed that the office is working on bringing the matter to the attention of authorities.
Ali Waheed’s passport was seized during July of last year, with regards to the sexual harassment issues that came to light at the time, however, as the duration of seizure came close to an end, the PG applied for an extension of the duration, which in return, got rejected and subsequently resulted in the annulment of the existing court order to seize Waheed’s passport.
Following major public criticism after Ali Waheed took the best of the opportunity and left the country citing health issues, the PG’s statement revealed that the Criminal Court’s practices with regards to this case were out of the norms, and that passport should have only been released in the circumstance that the health condition of the individual in question is not treatable in the Maldives and requires urgent medical attention.
It was further highlighted that a document provided by a Dr. Muznee of the Tree Top Hospital was not verified and that it would not be possible to comment on the document without the opinion of experts, given the extensive use of medical terms.
During one of the hearings, the court ordered to have a medical check up of Ali Waheed done at Indira Gandhi Memorial Hospital (IGMH), of which the documents were discussed during a hearing held on the 9th of February. It was highlighted that the documents of IGMH were not provided to the state at the time of this hearing.
During the hearing, orthopedic surgeon, Dr.Shan Yoosuf’s expertise was heard, during which he said that the doctor has recommended Ali Waheed to undergo a surgery citing serious issues with his spine. He further stated that although the surgery can be done in the Maldives, the country does not have adequate equipment, and that he does not recommend to have the surgery done here, as a fatality has also been recorded during the the same type of surgery done in the country recently.
The state, in response of the information, said that it would not stand in the way of the medical treatment of an individual and that the state does not object to Ali Waheed’s travel abroad for the purpose. However, it was requested that his passport not be released, but instead, a limited travel document be provided to him.
However, Ali Waheed’s advocates highlighted that he has no criminal records, and that he has not fled from justice in the past. It was also said that a travel document highlighting that he has been accused of sexual harassment would be a disgrace to his name, and that a travel document would hinder in the way of traveling to receive adequate treatment.
The state objected, highlighting that Ali Waheed does not necessarily require a passport to travel and that Ali Waheed is someone who disrupted the way of justice by flying out of the country and not returning. It was also stated that there is a possibility that he may remain abroad for an extensive period of time, during which he may destroy evidence, making the trial ineffective.
However, despite the state’s protests, the court released Ali Waheed’s passport, conditioning the State Minister at the Ministry of Youth and Sports Asad Ali (Adubarey) as the guarantor of his return.
Regarding this, the state responded saying that it does not believe that the court order was declared fairly but that Ali Waheed left the country before the state had a chance to appeal the case.
With this, the state also said that it would be working on taking necessary action against Waheed and his guarantor, in the event that Waheed fails to return back to Maldives within four months.
Waheed is currently charged with seven different counts of sexual nature.