Former Tourism Minister Ali Waheed’s sexual assault charges have been withdrawn by the Prosecutor General’s Office, leading to a significant development in his case.
Ali Waheed, who had been facing charges of sexual harassment and rape during his tenure as Tourism Minister, had been on the run and was believed to be residing in the UK. He left the Maldives on February 10, 2021, after being granted permission by the court to receive medical treatment.
The Prosecutor General’s Office had initially charged Ali Waheed with seven counts of sexual offenses, including sexual abuse, attempted rape, indecent exposure, sexual harassment, attempted sexual abuse, and unlawful sexual contact. However, due to the suspect’s absence and failure to return for trial, the charges were sent back to the prosecutor’s office on September 22, 2022. The case was subsequently returned to the police on October 6, 2022, with instructions to refile the charges upon Ali Waheed’s return.
The decision to withdraw the charges was made by the prosecutor’s office after considering the statements of individuals who had testified against Ali Waheed but expressed a reluctance to pursue the case further. Consequently, the police requested a re-evaluation of the case. As the main evidence relied heavily on the testimony of the victims and witnesses, and without their cooperation, it was determined that the case could not be successfully proven. Therefore, it was concluded that proceeding with the trial would not be feasible, resulting in the withdrawal of the charges.
In addition to the sexual harassment case, Ali Waheed is under investigation by the Anti Corruption Commission (ACC) regarding multiple issues raised in a compliance report published by the Auditor General’s Office. These issues pertain to expenses made by the Ministry of Tourism in relation to the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic.
It is worth noting that Ali Waheed has already been sentenced to two months and 12 days in jail for his failure to appear in court regarding an appeal filed by the prosecution in the Supreme Court. Following his request to travel abroad for medical treatment, the Criminal Court had released his passport indefinitely, leading to his absence from the trial proceedings. However, before he could be extradited back to the Maldives to serve his sentence, the Criminal Court ordered him to be presented in court once again on November 29, 2021.
Ali Waheed’s initial release for medical treatment had been conditional upon his guaranteed return, which was secured through the signature of former State Minister of Youth, Sports, and Empowerment Assad Ali (Adubarey). However, due to Ali Waheed’s failure to honor the agreement and return, Assad Ali served his jail sentence.
The withdrawal of the sexual assault charges against Ali Waheed marks a significant turn of events in a case that has garnered public attention. The decision has raised questions and ignited discussions about the legal procedures involved and the implications for justice and accountability.