Malé, Maldives — Criminal Court has announced today that the court trial of former Tourism Minister, Ali Waheed, charged with 7 counts of sexual offences will be taking place virtually in private as the trial is related to sexual assault.
The Criminal Court usually does not allow trials to take place virtually, the court made an exception and allowed Ali Waheed’s hearing to be held online upon his request as he is currently in London for medical purposes.
Prosecutor General Hussain Shameem, meanwhile has stated that a court hearing should be held where the state can implement the verdict of a Maldives court, otherwise “it would be a joke.”
Regarding the departure of Ali Waheed to London, Supreme Court and the High Court of Maldives earlier announced that trials for having sexual offenses cannot be held in the person’s absence.
Ali Waheed fled from the country after his passport was released due to a medical emergency, he was initially scheduled to arrive in the Maldives in early June as his medical treatment duration of 4 months had expired. However, he did not return to the country and no explanation was revealed until the Criminal Court recently informed that Ali Waheed contacted the court to inform that his medical procedure has not finished yet along with valid documents supporting his statement.
Ali Waheed’s Criminal court hearing is scheduled to take place virtually today at 15:00, where Ali Waheed will be participating in the Criminal Court hearing through the Maldivian Embassy in London.
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.
Although the Criminal Court agreed to hold a virtual hearing, PG Shameem expressed disapproval for the decision today. PG Shameem stated that holding a hearing where the laws of Maldives would not be valid can result in many problems.
For example, what if he dishonours the court online while staying out of the country, what will we do then? It will be very sad, if he dishonours the court, what will we do then?Prosecutor General Hussain Shameem.
Waheed was fired on July 9, 2020, marking the first time a cabinet minister was fired over allegations of sexual abuse to his co-workers after he failed to tender his resignation as per the order of President Ibrahim Mohamed Solih after the ministry’s staffs sent a detailed letter of the case to the president.
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.