Malé, Maldives – Maldives High Court has decided to allow the appeal of former Tourism Minister Ali Waheed’s passport release case.
While the High Courts registerer had previously rejected the case as Prosecutor Generals Office submitted it later than mandatory appeal period of 48 hours, the judges committee of High Court has now decided to allow the case to be heard.
According to local news outlet ‘Mihaaru’, an official from Prosecutor Generals (PG) office had confirmed that judges committee of High Court had decided to allow the case to be heard when the PG resubmits the case for appeal. However the case has not been resubmitted for appeal by PG yet. According to High Court, even if the registerer had rejected the case, the judges committee can overrule and decide to accept cases like these.
Prosecutor General of Maldives Hussain Shameem had previously revealed to the Judiciary Committee of the Parliament, that alleged sexual predator and former Tourism Minister of Maldives Ali Waheed flew to Turkey and not the UK as previously believed.
Detailing his statement in a letter sent to the committee on 28th February, PG Shameem stated that Ali Waheed flew out of the country to Turkey on the 9th of February at exactly 23:07 via the Turkish Airline plane TK731, and that the court order to release his passport was also issued on the same day.
However, it was highlighted that due to a clerical mistake, the court order was dated as 10th and that the PG Office received the court order documents on the 11th, two days after Ali Waheed had already departed – something which was not certain at the time the matter came to light.
Ali Waheed, who has been charged with seven different counts of violence of sexual nature, including attempted rape fled to the Turkey on February 10, 2021 after the court granted the release of his passport, accepting his request to seek ‘urgent medical care’, after placing his close friend and State Minister of the Ministry of Youth, Sports and Community Empowerment Asadh Ali as his guarantor.
Prosecutor General of Maldives Hussain Shameem had previously raised his concerns over the procedural practices followed in releasing the passport of former Tourism Minister Ali Waheed citing issues 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 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 court order to seize Waheed’s passport.
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.
Waheed was fired on 9 July 2020, 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.
According to the Prosecutor General’s Office, a total of seven counts of sexual offences were filed as six cases against the former Minister at the Criminal Court of the Maldives. These being;
- One count of sexual abuse under article 16 of the Sexual Offences Act (17/2014)
- One count of attempted rape under article 15 of the Sexual Offences Act (17/2014)
- One count of indecent exposure under article 132 of The Constitution of Maldives
- One count of sexual harassment under article 18 of the Sexual Offences Act (17/2014)
- One count of attempted sexual abuse under article 19 of the Sexual Offences Act (17/2014)
- Two counts of unlawful sexual contact under article 81 and 412 of Maldives Penal Code 9/2014.
In addition to the sexual harassment case, Ali Waheed is also under investigation by the Anti Corruption Commission (ACC) regarding eight different issues which were highlighted in the compliance report published by the Auditor General’s Office, concerning the expenses made by the Ministry of Tourism with regards to the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic.
Till date, Ali Waheed has denied all the charges that were raised against him. However, if he is found guilty of the charges levied against him, Waheed will face up to 21 years imprisonment.