Corrections to request Ali Waheed be extradited to Maldives

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

Maldives Correctional Service has stated that that they will request Maldives Police Service to extradite former Tourism Minister Ali Waheed to serve his sentence in the Maldives. Ali Waheed was sentenced to prison for contempt of court, after failing to appear before the Supreme Court for his appeal hearing scheduled for yesterday.

The first hearing in the appeal lodged by the Prosecutor General’s Office over the decision to allow online hearings in the criminal case against Ali Waheed was originally scheduled for August 2, but was later rescheduled to 01:00 pm this Wednesday. However, Ali Waheed, who left for UK after the Criminal Court allowed a temporary ease in the travel ban order against him in February, was a no-show at the hearing.

Supreme Court treated his failure to appear in court as contempt of court, and sentenced him to two months and 12 days in prison for the offense.

Media official of Corrections Aminath Yusreen has told Sun that they have received a copy of the Supreme Court’s judgment today – and as he is not presently in remand, Corrections will be requesting Police to facilitate his arrest and eventual hand over to them in order to enforce his prison sentence.

“We have received the judgment just a few moments ago. If the person in question is not in remand at the time of the judgment – the normal procedure is to request Police to facilitate the arrest of the person and subsequently hand over the person to our custody. We will request the handover of Ali Waheed as per this procedure,” she had said.

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 injury, 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.