Ex-tourism Minister Ali Waheed arrested in UK

Former Tourism Minister Ali Waheed has been arrested in the United Kingdom.

Ali's arrest comes hours after he announced that his legal team would hold a press conference later this evening. The press conference was scheduled for 4:00 pm.

The police have been working with Interpol to extradite the former minister following a Supreme Court order sentencing him to two months and 12 days in jail for contempt of court. The top court sentenced him after he failed to attend an appeal hearing held at the court on August 11.

Seven charges have been raised against the former tourism minister, who was dismissed from his post over sexual harassment allegations. The charges raised against Ali Waheed include inflicting sexual injury under Article 16 of Sexual Offences Act, attempted rape under Article 15 of the same act, indecent exposure under Section 132 of the Penal Code, sexual assault under Article 18 of the Sexual Offences Act, attempt to cause sexual assault under Article 19 of the Sexual Offences Act, and two counts of unlawful sexual conduct under section 412 and 81 of the Penal Code.

While the Criminal Court imposed a travel ban against Ali in July 2020, the court earlier this year lifted the ban after doctors confirmed that Ali Waheed had to travel abroad to seek medical treatment. Ali then left the country in February and has not returned since. The former minister requested the Criminal Court to allow online hearings for his criminal case, and the request was granted by the court. However, the state said the hearings cannot be conducted online as Ali was not present in the Maldives, and the court does not have jurisdiction over Ali's current location. Although the Criminal Court's decision was appealed at the High Court, the upper court did not accept the case, after which the case was taken to the Supreme Court, for which the appeal hearing was held on Tuesday. The first appeal hearing for the case was initially scheduled for August 2 but was later rescheduled to August 11.