Ex-Tourism Minister Ali Waheed's court granted period for travel expires

Former Tourism Minister Ali Waheed arrives at Criminal Court on January 24, 2021. (Sun Photo/Fayaz Moosa)

The four-month period granted by the Criminal Court for former Tourism Minister Ali Waheed to return to the Maldives after traveling abroad for medical treatment has expired. 

Ali Waheed was accused of multiple sexual abuse and harassment by Tourism Ministry employees during his tenure as Minister. The Criminal Court ordered to withhold his passport in July last year. 

He was allowed to travel after providing the court with a medical expert who testified that Ali Waheed required surgery from abroad. Ali Waheed submitted Youth Ministry State Minister Assad Ali as a guarantor after which the court granted him permission to travel. 

Ali Waheed's current whereabouts are unknown. 

This is not the first time Ali Waheed has traveled abroad from the Maldives and failed to return, hindering investigations and court proceedings against him.

Assad Ali agreed to be named as a guarantor for the four-month period for which Ali Waheed was allowed to travel abroad. The guarantor is required to prevent the accused from committing further crimes, attending the law enforcement authorities upon being summoned for the investigation, and to present the accused to the court for the court proceedings on time. 

The courts have the power to punish the guarantor for violations by the accused such as fleeing from the law, and if the guarantor violates any part of the guarantor agreement. 

The courts can sentence the guarantor a one-year prison sentence, or two years under house arrest. The courts also have the power to fine the guarantor by an amount of no more than MVR 15,000. The courts are to issue an arrest order for the guarantor if the accused in the original case flees or if the guarantor violates the agreement. The state has previously said that it will pursue a prison sentence against Assad Ali, who is the guarantor in Ali Waheed's case if Ali Waheed fails to return to the Maldives. 

Ali Waheed was charged with multiple sexual abuse charges in November last year. Charges against him include attempted rape, sexual harassment, and indecent exposure. He has denied the charges against him. 

Ali Waheed, who was one of the most prominent ministers of the administration of President Solih before his downfall, was fired from the post by the President after the sexual abuse allegations against him.