Ali Waheed’s Criminal Court hearing cancelled

Former Tourism Minister Ali Waheed | Photo: Twitter

Malé, Maldives – The hearing set for today for former Tourism Minister currently on trial for 7 counts of sexual offences have been cancelled.

While Prosecutor General’s office has confirmed the news according to local media, the reason is not released.

The former Tourism Minister requested for online hearing via letter to the Maldives Criminal Court yesterday.

Ali Waheed who fled from the country, after his passport was released due to medical emergency is supposed to arrive in Maldives today as his medical treatment duration of 4 months has expired.

The Prosecutor General’s Office is charging the suspect Ali Waheed with a total of seven counts of sexual offences 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.

The Prosecutor General (PG) of Maldives Hussain Shameem states that the PG Office has the option to pursue an Interpol red notice to bring back the defendant.

While it was allowed previously under the guidelines authorized by the Criminal Procedure Code , Supreme Court has declared amendments to the guidelines effective 15 June 2021.

Former Tourism Minister and alleged sexual offender Ali Waheed exited Maldives after assigning State Minister for Youth and Sports Assad Ali signed on as his guarantor prior to his departure. Assad has said that Ali Waheed will return to Maldives on 9 June 2021 and a criminal court hearing has been set on this date.

While previously the Criminal Procedure Code (Act No. 12/2016) allowed a suspect may be released from custody and may have access to their passport and travel out of the country after appointing a guarantor, the Supreme Court of Maldives has since amended the guidelines effective 15 June 2021. The Supreme Court amended the court procedure regarding the travel of suspects and banned exiting the country after appointing a guarantor.

Ali Waheed’s appeal case was lodged at the Supreme Court by Prosecutor General’s office after High Court threw out the case following government failure to locate Ali Waheed.

The Criminal Court of Maldives granted the release of Waheed’s 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.

PG 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, and revealed that the office is working on bringing the matter to the attention of authorities.

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.

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.

To 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.