Supreme Court order: Online hearings cannot be held in ex-minister's trial

The Supreme Court on Monday ordered the lower court that former Tourism Minister Ali Waheed's sexual harrassment trial cannot be conducted online.

The Criminal Court earlier decided that hearings may be held remotely in Ali Waheed's case, as the accused is currently in the United Kingdom. The decision was appealed at the Supreme Court after which a summon was sent to Ali Waheed, asking him to present himself to court on August 12. However, he did not attend the hearing, due to which he was sentenced to two months and 12 days in jail for contempt of court. Authorities are working to extradite him.

An order issued by the top court on Monday said hearings cannot be held online via audio or video conferencing if the accused is not in the Maldives. The order was signed by judges Husnu-al-Suood, Mohamed Ibrahim and Ali Rasheed.

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.