Police informed of Ali Waheed’s arrest in the UK after 11 days

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

Maldives Police Service has confirmed that they have been informed of former Tourism Minister Ali Waheed’s arrest in the UK – 11 days after he had been arrested.

The Police detailed that they were officially informed today – by the UK Police – that Ali Waheed has been arrested over immigration offenses.

When questioned about Ali Waheed’s arrest on a prior occasion, Commissioner of Police Mohamed Hameed told Sun that the police were working to verify the information and find out the cause of the arrest. 

“We are checking whether Ali Waheed has been arrested – and in that case, for what reason,” he had said.

Speaking further, CP Hameed noted that the Maldives and UK do not have an agreement regarding the extradition of persons suspected of a crime – and subsequently, there are formalities that need to be fulfilled in order to have Ali Waheed extradited, which the Police is attending to.

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 injury, indecent exposure, sexual assault, attempted 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 in 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.

Ali Waheed’s lawyers stated that he had never decided to not return to the Maldives and was waiting in the UK till his doctors make a final decision on whether to or not to undergo a spinal surgery.