Former Tourism Minister of the Maldives, who is facing seven counts of sexual violence has fled to the United Kingdom. Multiple sources confirm that he is living at the official residence Naushad Waheed the Deputy High Commissioner of Maldives to the UK.
According to reliable sources, Ali Waheed has been occupying Naushad Waheed's Trumpington residence for quite some time. He is also known to spend weekends at Yameen Shahid's residence in London. Yameen is the counselor to the High Commissioner at the Maldivian High Commission. Yameen is the eldest son of Maldivian Foreign Minister and UN General Assembly's President-Elect Abdullah Shahid.
Since the government of Maldives bears the expenses for the residences of Deputy High Commissioner Naushad Waheed and Counsellor Yameen Shahid, it can be said that Ali Waheed is residing in the UK at the state's expense with diplomatic immunity. Sources confirm that Minister of Foreign Affairs Abdullah Shahid had a major role in enabling Ali Waheed to flee and reside in the UK. The minister refused to comment on the matter when questioned by TMJ. Ali Waheed entered the UK with an official passport.
Last week the Criminal Court of the Maldives accepted Ali Waheed's request for a virtual hearing and the first hearing took place on Monday at the Criminal Court while Ali Waheed took part in the hearing virtually from the Maldivian High Commission in London.
This is the first time in the history of the Maldives where the defendant in a criminal case took part in the hearings from abroad. The Prosecutor General's Office issued a statement saying that the hearings will be invalid as Ali Waheed is taking part in the hearing from a location where the Maldives does not have jurisdiction. The first of its kind, the hearing carried out under these circumstances is not recognized under criminal law and is unacceptable, stated the PGO's statement.
It should be noted that the current administration provided refuge to convicted terrorist Abdullah Lutfi at the Maldivian High Commission in Colombo, Sri Lanka. Lutfi who was the mastermind of the 3rd November 1988 terrorist attack, was allowed to leave the country for medical treatment during President Nasheed's administration and he never returned. However, after the Easter Bombing in Sri Lanka, when authorities started deporting foreigners in the country without valid documents, Lutfi sought refuge in the Maldivian High Commission in Colombo. He was brought back to the Maldives after the public discovered that Lutfi was staying at the High Commission. The government faced harsh criticism back then.
Similarly, Ali Waheed was allowed to leave the country for medical treatment and it is widely believed that the government facilitated his departure. Until his court proceedings began, the government claimed that they were unaware of Ali Waheed's whereabouts.
Even though Ali Waheed does not have any political backing as of now, it is unclear why the government wants to protect him. Even after the accusations against him surfaced, President Ibrahim Mohammed Solih spoke about him in high regard. Speaking to Rajje TV he stated that Ali Waheed had a promising future in politics and that he will not face "unfortunate circumstances".
Speaking to Dhiyares News, the sister outlet of TMJ, a source confirmed that Ali Waheed possessed audio recordings which can compromise President Solih and parliament speaker Mohamed Nasheed.
The Prosecutor General of the Maldives charged Ali Waheed with 7 counts of sexual offence after he was reported by 15 female employees of the Tourism Ministry when he was the minister. The Charges against Ali Waheed:
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