The High Court has refused to hold the passport of former Tourism Minister Ali Waheed, who is accused with seven charges of sexual assault, for the third time.
The court decided against a travel ban order, noting a lack of legal precedence for courts to seize the passport of someone residing outside of the Maldives.
According to the High Court ruling, while Article 75 of the Maldives’ Criminal Procedure Act enables courts to take defendants’ passports based on the threat they pose and flight risk, it is irrelevant in Ali Waheed’s case because the statute provides reasons for preventative steps.
Article 75 does not apply to persons who are not subject to the jurisdiction of the Maldives since the purpose of the article is to prevent the suspects from fleeing the country, the court said.
Ali Waheed, who fled the country after his passport was released due to a medical emergency, was expected to return to the Maldives in June when his four-month medical treatment period expired, but he has yet to return. He requested an online hearing through the Maldives Criminal Court in a letter dated June 10th, but the Supreme Court has ruled against holding online hearings.
Ali Waheed is being charged with a total of seven counts of sexual offences.
- 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
He has denied all the charges lodged against him. However, if found guilty of the charges, he will face up to 21 years imprisonment.