State to appeal Ali Waheed’s online trial with Supreme Court after High Court rejection

Former Tourism Minister Ali Waheed. (Sun Photo/Mohamed Muzain Nazim)

Prosecutor General’s Office has decided to appeal the decision to hold online hearings in the case against former Tourism Minister Ali Waheed with the Supreme Court, after the petition was thrown out of High Court last week.

Prosecutor General’s Office appealed the decision by Criminal Court judge Hassan Saeed to allow Ali Waheed to attend his trial virtually from the UK on June 25.

Prosecutor General’s Office filed the appeal citing that holding a hearing via video conferencing in a criminal trial with the defendant in a location outside of Maldives’ jurisdiction is in violation of Criminal Procedure Code, and that the court will not have the jurisdiction to penalize the defendant, even if he is held in contempt of the court.

However, the High Court threw out the petition on July 8, citing lack of legal and judicial basis to hear the case as an appeal.

Prosecutor General’s Office spokesperson, Public Prosecutor Ahmed Shafeeu told Sun this Sunday that they have decided to appeal the decision with the Supreme Court.

Ali Waheed was dismissed as Tourism Minister on July 9, 2020, after allegations that he sexually assaulted and harassed multiple female employees at the Tourism Ministry was brought to the attention of President Ibrahim Mohamed Solih. He was initially asked to voluntarily resign, but was dismissed after he refused.

He has been pressed with seven charges; attempted rape, inflicting a sexual, indecent exposure, sexual assault, attempt to cause sexual assault, and two counts of unlawful sexual contact.

He initially had a travel ban order against him, but the Criminal Court temporarily released his passport and allowed him to travel overseas for medical treatment on February 9, despite requests by the Prosecutor General's Office not to release his passport and grant him temporary travel papers instead.

State Minister for Sports Assad Ali, one of Ali Waheed’s closest allies, signed as the guarantor for his return within the four-month period granted by the court for his travel overseas – which expired last June.