Ali Waheed to hold press conference to offer 'explanation'

Former Tourism Minister Ali Waheed at a press conference on January 30, 2020. (Sun Photo/Fayaz Moosa)

Former Tourism Minister Ali Waheed – on trial for multiple charges of sexual violence – has announced he will be holding a press conference this Wednesday. 

Ali Waheed, in his first tweet since his dismissal last year, when he said that "time will tell the truth", announced that the press conference will be held at 04:00 pm this Wednesday. 

While he did not specify how the press conference will be held, Sun has been informed through a reliable source that the press conference will be held virtually, and that Ali Waheed himself will speak at the press conference. 

The source told Sun Ali Waheed will address the charges against him and “explain how that happened, from start to finish”. 

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

He is on trial for seven charges of sexual violence; 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. He promptly left for the UK.

Ali Waheed failed to return to Maldives despite the fact that the four-month period granted by the court for his travel overseas expired last June.

Once in the UK, Ali Waheed filed a motion asking the Criminal Court to allow him to attend his hearings remotely. The motion was allowed by the court despite the objections of the Prosecutor General’s Office.

The Prosecutor General’s Office appealed the decision with the High Court, 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 acts in contempt of the court. 

However, the appeal was rejected by the High Court, and the Prosecutor General's Office headed to the Supreme Court.  

The Supreme Court sentenced Ali Waheed to two months and 12 days in prison for contempt of court on August 11, after he failed to appear at the appeal hearing.