Supreme Court postpones Ali Waheed's hearing to August 11

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

The first hearing in the appeal lodged by the State with the Supreme Court over the decision to allow online hearings in the case against former Tourism Minister Ali Waheed has been postponed to August 11. 

The first hearing in the case was originally scheduled for last Monday. 

Supreme Court has announced the hearing has been postponed to 01:00 pm on Wednesday, August 11. The court said Ali Waheed has been instructed to present himself to the court for the hearing.

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 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. 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 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. 

The Prosecutor General’s Office appealed the decision unsuccessfully with the High Court before heading to the Supreme Court.