Statements taken from 15 people, but Ali Waheed has not been questioned

Former Tourism Minister Ali Waheed at a press conference on March 8, 2020. (Sun Photo/Fayaz Moosa)

The police said on Thursday that they have yet to question Ali Waheed, who was dismissed from his position as Tourism Minister following allegation of sexual harassment and assault of multiple female employees at the Tourism Ministry, but has taken statements from 15 people in connection to the case.

At a press conference on Thursday evening, Deputy Commissioner of Police Abdul Mannaan Yoosuf said the police are at the initial stages of the investigation into the case.

He said the police have yet to take a statement from Ali Waheed, because they found the investigation has not reached the stage to extract a statement from him.

The police launched an investigation into the case on July 8; the same day Tourism Ministry employees raised complaints of sexual harassment and assault against Ali Waheed with President Ibrahim Mohamed Solih and the Gender Ministry.

The President, following his meeting with the Tourism Ministry employees, had demanded Ali Waheed’s immediate resignation, and dismissed him the next day, after he failed to voluntarily tender his resignation.

The police searched Ali Waheed’s residence on July 11, during which they seize his phone and laptop, and took out a travel ban order against him to prevent him from leaving the country the next day.

At Thursday’s press conference, the police said they took out a travel ban order against him to ensure he is available when the police bring him in for questioning.

The police said they were collecting evidence, but declined to provide further details regarding the evidence against Ali Waheed, citing that the investigation is in its early stages.

Head of the department leading the investigation, Chief Inspector of Police Mariyam Azma said the police have taken statements from 15 people in connection to the case.

However, she declined to comment on whether the 15 people questioned are victims.

Ali Waheed’s dismissal had marked the first time for a Cabinet minister to be dismissed in response to sexual harassment allegations in Maldivian history.