UK Police confirm ex-minister's arrest

The UK Police have informed Maldives Police Service of former Tourism Minister, Ali Waheed's arrest in the United Kingdom.

Ali was arrested in the UK on August 25. A video that shows him being taken away in a police vehicle has been circulating on media. Until now, the police have been saying that they were not aware of Ali's arrest or that he was being held at a detention centre, and that no official entities of the UK had informed the police as such.

However, the police Monday said the UK police have officially informed that Ali Waheed has been arrested due to immigration violations.

Several serious charges have been raised against the former tourism minister, who was dismissed from his post over sexual harrassment 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 to the UK 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 August 11. As Ali failed to attend the hearing, the court sentenced him to two months and 12 days in jail for contempt of court. The police have been working with the Interpol to extradite the former minister following a Supreme Court order.

Ali's legal team was preparing to hold a press conference on the day of his arrest. Ali himself had tweeted that an online press conference would be held later the same day, mere hours before his arrest.