Former Maldivian Tourism Minister Ali Waheed, who was detained by British authorities for overstaying his visa in late August, shortly before he was scheduled for a press conference, said on Friday that he will have his say and return to Maldives.
Ali Waheed tweeted on Friday night that he will not back down in face of political charges, frame jobs, and abuse.
"I will not back down in face of political charges, frame jobs, and oppression. I will make whatever sacrifice necessary in order to find a fair and just court system for the Maldivian people. God willing, I will say what I tried to say. I will return,” he 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 is on trial for seven charges of sexual violence; attempted rape, inflicting a sexual, 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, who maintains that the allegations against him were part of a political conspiracy, was arrested from the UK on August 25, shortly after he was scheduled for a virtual press conference.
British police informed Maldivian authorities on his arrest 11 days later, on September 6.
Commissioner of Police Mohamed Hameed previously told Sun that the Maldives and UK do not have an extradition agreement. This may likely be the reason for the delay in extraditing Ali Waheed to Maldives.