'Ali may have been framed' - Gasim

Leader of Jumhooree Party and Maamigili MP Gasim Ibrahim has stated that it is likely that former Tourism Minister Ali Waheed was framed.

Several serious 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.

Ali Waheed remains as Jumhooree Party's President despite the allegations against him. When asked by reporters why Ali remains in that position at a press conference held Monday, Gasim said even though charges have been raised against Ali, he has not been found guilty thus far. He went on to state that based on recent events, he sometimes feels Ali has been framed.

Delineating on the topic, Gasim said the State acted in an irresponsible manner when withholding Ali's passport. While the diplomatic passport issued to Ali was automatically cancelled upon his termination as minister, there is no need for the State to request the court to cancel an already cancelled passport, said Gasim.

Gasim further said he does not believe the allegations against Ali will prove to be true, and said he does not believe Ali would commit such vile acts. However, it is still possible that he may have done it, despite how difficult such a scenario is to believe, he added.

Ali was recently arrested by the UK police over immigration violations hours before he was due to hold a press conference. Over the past few days, Ali has been frequently tweeting 'warnings' to the government, stating that he would 'speak out' when appropriate.

While Gasim has defended Ali's character, an audio clip where a man allegedly believed to be Ali speaks in a degrading manner about Gasim's wife and Transport Minister Aishath Nahula surfaced prior to the sexual harrassment allegations against him. However, no action was taken against him by JP even in that instance.

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.