Legal proceedings against Ali Waheed, the erstwhile Minister of Tourism, accused of sexually assaulting numerous female staff within his ministry, have been officially instigated.
On Wednesday, the Prosecutor General's Office (PGO) released a statement revealing that the victims and witnesses involved in the case had written a letter to both the PGO and the police, imploring the authorities to abandon the case.
In the wake of receiving the letter, a review was requested by the police to ascertain the viability of pursuing the prosecution sans their testimonies. The PGO noted, "Upon review, it became evident that without the testimony of the victims and the witnesses - the cornerstone evidence of this case - the case would be bereft of provable facts. Thus, we reached a decision to forgo the charges in question and dismissed the case as of June 6, 2023."
Ali Waheed's tenure as Tourism Minister came to an abrupt end on July 9, 2020, when allegations of his sexual misconduct towards multiple female employees within the Tourism Ministry surfaced, prompting President Ibrahim Mohamed Solih to take action. Initially, Waheed was given the option to resign voluntarily, however, his refusal led to his outright dismissal.
He faced an array of seven charges, encompassing attempted rape, sexual assault, indecent exposure, the intent to instigate sexual assault, and two counts of unlawful sexual contact. A travel ban was initially imposed on Waheed, but he was subsequently permitted to travel abroad for medical treatment on February 9, 2021, following a temporary release of his passport by the Criminal Court. This decision was made in defiance of the PGO's appeal to only issue him temporary travel documents.
Waheed promptly departed for the United Kingdom and failed to return to the Maldives even after the four-month grace period allotted by the court for his overseas travel expired in June 2021.
In September 2022, the court dismissed the case, instructing the PGO to reinstate charges once Waheed could be brought before the court. Consequently, the PGO directed the case back to the police the following month, instructing them to refile the case when Waheed re-enters Maldivian territory.
An Interpol red notice, a request to law enforcement worldwide to locate and provisionally arrest an individual pending extradition, was issued in April 2022 for Waheed's arrest. Nonetheless, all attempts to extradite him back to the Maldives have thus far proved unsuccessful.
Since 2021, Waheed has resided in the UK where he currently serves as a coach for Sporting London FC.
As the Maldives Journal discovered, the decision to proceed with the case was taken after President Solih instructed the Prosecutor General's Office to do so. Notably, President Solih recently traveled to the UK and met with Waheed, assuring him that all charges would be dropped.