In a significant turn of events, former Minister of Tourism, Ali Waheed, returned to the Maldives today, 11th July 2023, after nearly two years in self-imposed exile in the United Kingdom. Waheed's homecoming comes after the Prosecutor General's Office (PGO) officially dropped all charges against him on 6th June 2023.
Speaking at a press conference on his arrival in the capital, Male, Waheed expressed profound appreciation for President Ibrahim Mohamed Solih.
Ali Waheed's tenure as Tourism Minister was abruptly halted on 9th July 2020, following allegations of sexual misconduct towards multiple female employees within his ministry. He was given the option to resign, but his refusal led to outright dismissal by President Solih. Waheed was subsequently charged with seven counts including attempted rape, sexual assault, and indecent exposure.
The former Minister was allowed to travel to the UK for medical treatment on 9th February 2021, following a temporary release of his passport by the Criminal Court, despite the PGO's appeal to only issue temporary travel documents. He failed to return after the stipulated four-month grace period, prompting an Interpol red notice for his arrest.
In April 2022, the case was dismissed and charges were to be reinstated once Waheed could be brought before the court. Despite efforts, all attempts to extradite him back to the Maldives proved unsuccessful. During this period, Waheed served as a coach for Sporting London FC.
In June 2023, after victims and witnesses involved in the case implored the authorities to abandon it, the PGO decided to forgo the charges, citing the absence of provable facts without the victims' and witnesses' testimonies. This decision came in the wake of a meeting between President Solih and Waheed in the UK, during which the President assured him that all charges would be dropped.