The flight of the former Minister of Tourism, Ali Waheed, while he faced several charges of sexual harassment, sexual assault, and even rape, has become a point of concern for many.
Criticism has been mounting on the government, the Prosecutor General’s Office, the Criminal Court, and also the physician who recommended that Waheed seek surgical treatment for his spinal problems abroad.
However, the full details of how things had unravelled and taken place are yet to be seen. One of Ali Waheed’s close associates spoke to Dhiyares, the sister-outlet of The Maldives Journal, under the condition of anonymity to provide a bird’s-eye view of how Ali Waheed’s departure had been planned and executed.
A Preplanned Escape
The details of Ali Waheed’s flight indicate that things had been planned well in advance.
Both hearings pertaining to Ali Waheed’s passport had been scheduled on a day when a Turkish Airlines flight was to fly out from the Maldives.
The planning began from the point when a judge had been assigned to preside over the case.
The work of manufacturing an ailment for the disgraced Minister of Tourism thus began; an ailment which could be claimed to be untreatable by local medical facilities and would necessitate treatment from outside the country.
Ali Waheed had produced a letter from Dr Ali Muznee, an orthopaedic surgeon at Treetop Hospital in Hulhumalé, which read that he suffered from “a slipped vertrebrae” and that it was recommended he seek medical treatment abroad even if the ailment had been one that could be treated in the Maldives. Although the letter had been provided to the Court on January 24, the Prosecutor General’s Office had not received a copy of the letter until the day of the hearing.
Ali Waheed had planned to flee the country via Turkish Airlines. He was to travel from Malé to Istanbul, and then depart to London therefrom.
Turkish Airlines have flights scheduled out of Malé every Sunday, Tuesday, and Friday of the week. The first hearing scheduled with relation to the medical recommendation letter from Dr Muznee had been scheduled for January 24, a Sunday.
The Court had mandated that Waheed get the medical opinion of a physician at Indira Gandhi Memorial Hospital in Malé, and had scheduled the following hearing for February 9, a Tuesday.
This had not been a coincidence. According to Waheed’s associate, Waheed had been fully prepared to fly on both days.
The First Failure
The first time Ali Waheed had prepared to leave in expectation of the return of his passport was on January 9.
Waheed had already decided to leave on the recognisance of Assad Ali; State Minister at the Ministry of Youth, Sports, and Community Empowerment.
Waheed’s associate said that he had also prepared his PCR test results for that day. All of the arrangements had been made for his departure by Turkish Airlines that night.
An official from the Ministry of Home Affairs and the President’s Office came to an agreement with the presiding judge, Judge Hassan Saeed, to order the release of Waheed’s passport on the basis of the documents provided.
Waheed’s associate had said that the judge had been assured that the Prosecution would not object to the return of the passport at the last minute. It had also been arranged for Dr Muznee’s letter to not be shared with the Prosecutor General’s Office ahead of time.
On the January 24 hearing, however, the Prosecution did indeed object to the passport’s release. As a result, the judge mandated an unprecedented order to have an unincarcerated defendant undergo a medical investigation at Indira Gandhi Memorial Hospital. The Prosecutor General’s Office had also remarked that the order had been unprecedented.
February 9: A Collusion of Many Arms of the State
The second hearing had been scheduled for February 9. Waheed’s associate says that Waheed had, once again, prepared a PCR test result for that day. Waheed had also believed that the Prosecution would be lenient “at the last minute”.
As things turned out, a meeting of the Majlis had been planned for that day. A motion regarding music halls and other facilities for entertainment was being debated. The debate’s controversy had captured the public’s attention.
Waheed’s associate had said that the Majlis Speaker, Mohamed Nasheed, had given assurances that the controversy at the Majlis would indeed serve the purpose for which it had been manufactured.
Waheed had also received assurance from the Maldives Police Service that no steps would be taken against him, and he had also been informed that the final list of the Hiyaa housing allocations would also be published on that same day.
In addition, Waheed had also received assurances that he would get asylum in the United Kingdom and be allowed in to stay there beyond the 6 month period generally allowed for short stays.
Before Waheed’s hearing, on that same day, Judge Hassan Saeed presided over another case. A young defendant had injured three discs in his spine and sought permission to go abroad to get treated. The judge ruled that such treatment was already available in the Maldives and told the defendant that the State would take care of his treatment, and denied him his request.
Ali Waheed’s hearing, however, went on as planned; his spinal injury, though purportedly less severe than that of the young defendant from before, needed medical treatment from abroad.
A Disgraced Judge
The Judicial Service Commission (JSC) had once concluded to remove Judge Hassan Saeed from office. Judge Saeed had been accused of attempting to cover up claims of sexual harassment. The findings of the JSC are document in an investigative report they published, and is currently available on their website at the time of this writing.
The JSC reached that conclusion at a meeting where the Majlis Speaker, Mohamed Nasheed, was in attendance.
The investigative team comprised of JSC Member Masthoor Husny, High Court jusges, Judge Rauf, and Judge Easa Fulhu. The report recommended that Judge Hassan Saeed be removed from office.
According to reliable sources, Judge Hassan Saeed had been spared this removal from office through the intervention of an influental MDP parliamentarian who happens to be a family-member of the judge’s wife.
The PGO Did Things Differently
The Prosecutor General’s Office behaved differently towards this case as opposed to other similar cases. Hussain Shameem, the Prosecutor General, would lodge a complaint at the Judicial Service Commission prior to submitting an appeal if he disagreed with the judge.
An employee at the PGO had, under the condition of anonymity, informed The Maldives Journal that PG Shameem had indeed given instructions to report all such cases to the JSC.
When a Criminal Court judge, Judge Ismail Rasheed, nullified all of the charges laid against former Vice President Ahmed Adeeb, PG Shameem held a press conference to criticise the judge. The case was reported to the JSC. The Majlis held a session regarding the issue, and several parliamentarians criticised the judge.
No such thing has so far happened with regard to Ali Waheed’s flight.
The PGO had only released a statement. The statement had been released as the media, after procuring a copy of the Court’s ruling, had run stories about how the PGO had requested that Waheed’s passport be returned. Prior to this, the PGO had maintained that they had agreed
to the return of his passport as the physician’s letter had implied that his ailment could be life-threatening.
Dr Shan Yoosuf’s Expert Opinion
The recently-appointed Medical Director at Indira Gandhi Memorial Hospital, Dr Shan Yoosuf, had been summoned to court to provide his expert opinion regarding Waheed’s ailment. Dr Yoosuf recommended that Waheed seek treatment abroad.
This had been the first time in Maldivian legal history that a physician had been summoned to court to give their expert opinion.
The Prosecutor General’s Office remarked that summoning physicians to give their expert medical opinions in court was not practiced in the Maldivian judiciary.
Dr Shan Yoosuf had said that Waheed’s treatment should be given in the Maldives, yet the lack of facilities in the country meant that the required surgery posed a threat to Waheed’s life. Judge Saeed ruled to return Waheed’s passport to him based on Dr Yoosuf’s opinion.
The VIP Lounge
Ali Waheed left the country after resting at the VIP lounge in Velana International Airport. Assad Ali made the necessary arrangements for Waheed’s use of the lounge.
Police Intelligence and Military Intelligence receive real-time reports of all individuals entering and exiting that lounge.
However, the entire State feigned ignorance regarding Waheed’s departure. According to the newly-appointed President’s Spokesman, Mabrouq Ali, the first time the President had heard of Waheed’s departure had been when the newspapers reported it.
When the newspapers began running articles regarding Waheed’s departure, the government released the final revisions of the Flat Committee, the ramifications of which meant that more than 3,000 poor people had had their housing units taken away from them. Controversy, as expected, ensued.
The Silence of High Officials
Ali Waheed left the country, through the VIP lounge, while he is accused of having sexually harassed and assaulted, and even raped, several female employees of the Ministry of Tourism while he had been Minister. Waheed is accused of having blackmailed and threatened these women into performing sexual acts with him.
None from the highest echelons of the State have cared to comment on the matter.
In the November of the previous year, President Ibrahim Mohamed Solih had said that everyone should help Ali Waheed in building his political future in the way he wished, for Waheed was a skilled and capable politician.
Regardless, everyone in the upper echelons of the State has indeed come together to help Ali Waheed and his political future.
Several women who were victims of sexual predation have been ignored and silenced, their pain has been deemed unimportant.
President Solih has indeed, after wiping away his tears, shown them his zero-tolerance policy on sexual harassment.