Criminal Court allowing virtual hearing for Ali Waheed to be appealed at top court

Ali Waheed, Former Minister of Tourism | Photo: Google

Malé, Maldives — The State on Sunday revealed it’s decision to appeal the Criminal Court’s verdict to allow the court trial of former Tourism Minister Ali Waheed, charged with seven counts of sexual offences to take place virtually as he is in London for medical purposes.

while virtual hearings are not of the normal for Criminal Court, an exception was made to allow Ali Waheed’s hearing to be held online upon his request as he is currently in London for medical purposes.

The State first appealed the decision of allowing Ali Waheed’s hearing to be held online while he is in a country where the verdict of a Maldivian court cannot be implemented, to the High Court.

however, the High Court decided that they cannot appeal the case, citing that while proceedings are ongoing for such a procedural case in a lower court, the case cannot be appealed. The verdict noted that while the hearing is ongoing, they can only appeal cases that were appealed before the hearing.

While the Prosecutor General Hussain Shameem announced today that the state has decided to appeal the case to the Supreme Court, another virtual hearing on Ali Waheed’s case will be held today as he has still not returned to the Maldives.

Ali Waheed left the country after his passport was released due to a medical emergency. Though he was initially scheduled to return in early June as his medical treatment duration of 4 months had expired, he did not return. 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, along with valid documents supporting his statement.

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.

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.