The Criminal Court has decided to hold trials behind closed doors for former Minister of Tourism Ali Waheed, who was unceremoniously removed from his post in July last year following serious allegations of sexual abuse.
The first hearing in Ali Waheed's trial was set for 1:30pm on Sunday, where he was presented with the charges being pressed against him. The Criminal Court clarified that Ali Waheed's trial was made secret due to the “nature of the case."
According to judicial procedure, hearings for trials pertaining to crimes of a sexual nature must be held behind closed doors in order to protect the identity of survivors and prevent sensitive information from being leaked to the public.
The charges being pressed against Former Tourism Minister Ali Waheed are:
- One charge of inflicting sexual injury on a person under Article 16 of the Sexual Offences Act (No.: 17/2014)
- One charge of attempted rape of a person under Article 15 of the Sexual Offences Act (No.: 17/2014)
- One charge of indecent exposure under Section 132 of the Penal Code of the Maldives (No.: 9/2014)
- One charge of sexual assault against a person under Article 18 of the Sexual Offences Act (No.: 17/2014)
- One charge of attempted sexual assault under Article 19 of the Sexual Offences Act (No.: 17/2014)
- Two charges of unlawful sexual contact and criminal solicitation as detailed under Sections 412 and 81 respectively of the Penal Code of the Maldives (No.: 9/2014)
The Prosecutor General's (PG) Office revealed they had forwarded the charges to be pressed against Waheed to the Criminal Court on 18 November 2020, and that the PGO had received the case from Maldives Police Service (MPS) on 7 October 2020 seeking charges against the disgraced former minister.
Ali Waheed was removed from his position as Minister for Tourism after several employees of the ministry voiced complaints of having experienced sexual misconduct on his behalf, with MPS confirming that 15 witness statements had been recorded in relation to the case.
Speaking to the media after having given his own statement to the Police, Waheed said that he had answered all the questions asked of him, and that the charges against him were based on political influence, although he declined to reveal further details on the matter. Ali Waheed further declared that members of the public would learn the truth of the matter once investigation was complete.
Employees of the tourism ministry at the time Ali Waheed was in office alleged that he had continued to harass them sexually over a long period of time, and that it had occurred while they were traveling with him to resorts on official trips.
Speaking on RaajjeTV's 'Fashaairu' programme on the issue last November, President Ibrahim Mohamed Solih said that removing Ali Waheed from his post had been the right decision, and that even Ali Waheed believed that to be the case. President Solih maintains that he had taken quick action once receiving details of the case, and that he had done so after reviewing the issue in light of the sensitive nature of the allegations raised against Ali Waheed.
Police seized Ali Waheed's mobile phone and laptop in a search and seizure operation while investigating the allegations levied against him. Former Minister Ali Waheed's passport was also withheld to prevent him from traveling abroad until a verdict is reached in his case.