High Court refuses to detain Ali Waheed’s passport for the 3rd time

Ali Waheed (C) with guarantor Ashad Ali (R) | Photo: Avas

Malé, Maldives – The High Court of Maldives have denied a surrender order for the former Tourism Minister charged with 7 counts of sexual offences for the third time.

This time, the High Court ruled against a passport surrender order citing that there is no legal precedent for the courts to confiscate the passport of someone residing outside of the Maldives.

The High Court verdict states that while Article 75 of the Criminal Procedure Act (Law No. 12/2016) of the Maldives does allow the courts to confiscate passports of defendants depending on the threat they post and flight risk, in Ali Waheed’s case it is irrelevant since the law provides ground for preventative measures.

Article 75 does not apply to people outside the jurisdiction of the Maldives as the article is to prevent the suspects from leaving the country, reads the High Court verdict.

Passport surrender orders are released to inform the Maldives Immigration that the individual in question is not allowed to depart from the country and to detain the travel documents or passport.

High Court Verdict

With this, the High Court upheld the Criminal Court decision to not detain Ali Waheed’s passport.

Ali Waheed, who has been charged with seven different counts of violence of sexual nature, including attempted rape fled to 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.

Ali Waheed fled from the country, citing a medical emergency after his passport was released. He was initially scheduled to arrive in the Maldives in early June as his medical treatment duration of 4 months had expired.

Waheed was removed from office 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.

The Prosecutor General’s Office charged 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 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 have been raised against him. However, if he is found guilty of the charges levied against him, Waheed will face up to 21 years imprisonment.