Malé, Maldives – Supreme Court postponed the first hearing of former Tourism Minister Ali Waheed over the Criminal Court’s verdict to allow the court trial of Waheed, charged with seven counts of sexual offences to take place virtually while he is in London for medical purposes.
While the hearing was initially scheduled to be held on this Monday, Supreme Court announced that they have postponed the hearing to 1300hrs on Wednesday, August 11 and stated that Ali Waheed has been instructed to be physically present at the court for the hearing.
While virtual hearings are not the norm for Criminal Court, an exception was made to allow Ali Waheed’s hearing upon his request as he is in London for medical purposes. The state initially appealed this issue to the High Court. However, the court decided that they cannot appeal the case while proceedings are ongoing for such a procedural case in a lower court. Following this, the case was later appealed to the Supreme Court.
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 the four-month period granted to him had expired, he did not return. The Criminal Court revealed 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.