High Court denies request to withhold Ali Waheed's passport

The High Court has once again denied a request to seize former Tourism Minister Ali Waheed's passport.

Ali Waheed, against whom several charges of sexual violence have been raised, is currently in the United Kingdom.

The Criminal Court earlier rejected a request to withhold Ali's passport, a decision which was appealed at the High Court. However, the court initially rejected the appeal request and the court's Registrar did not accept the case, citing that it cannot proceed with the case while Ali is not present in the Maldives. The Supreme Court later ruled that the High Court can proceed with the appeal.

Following the Supreme Court decision, the case was accepted by the High Court. However, the lower court on Wednesday ruled that it cannot issue an order to withhold Ali's passport. The court said the Criminal Procedure Law states that the passport of an individual can only be withheld while he is in jurisdiction of the Maldives.

Seven charges were raised in November 2020 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, attempted rape, indecent exposure, sexual assault, attempt to cause sexual assault and two counts of unlawful sexual conduct. The Criminal Court imposed a travel ban against Ali in July 2020, and charges were raised against him on November 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.