Qasim: I wonder if Ali Waheed wasn’t framed

Maamigili MP and JP leader Qasim Ibrahim is pictured with then-Tourism Minister Ali Waheed. (Sun File Photo/Fayaz Moosa)

Jumhoory Party (JP) leader Qasim Ibrahim said on Monday that he sometimes wonders whether the allegations of sexual violence against former Tourism Minister Ali Waheed isn’t a frame job. 

In a press conference by JP on Monday evening, Qasim, who serves as parliamentary representative for Maamingili constituency, said he does not believe Ali Waheed could have carried out the crimes he has been accused of. 

“I believe the case against him can’t be proven in court. It’s not that I don’t want to believe that he wasn’t framed,” he said. 

Qasim accused the state of lack of professionalism in dealing with the case against Ali Waheed. 

He said that the request by the state to cancel Ali Waheed’s diplomatic passport when they filed to cancel his regular passport served to show the extent of the state’s irresponsibility.  

“They filed to cancel his diplomatic passport, which was already cancelled. So, when things like this happen, I have to say this is very poorly done,” he said. 

Qasim said he believes the case will end in Ali Waheed’s favor. 

He repeated that he finds it hard to believe Ali Waheed would sexually abuse women. 

“But it’s possible yes, it’s possible he might have done something. I have to say this regarding both sides,” 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.