Criminal Court orders ex-tourism minister's arrest

The Criminal Court has issued an order to arrest former Tourism Minister Ali Waheed and extradite him to the Maldives.

Ali, who faces multiple sexual harassment charges, fled the country under the pretense of seeking medical treatment in February. The judge who oversees his case, Hassan Saeed, has previously said he would issue an arrest warrant as Ali violated the terms of the arrangement that allowed him to seek medical treatment abroad and his failure to attend court hearings. The judge had also noted that Ali was guilty of contempt of court.

According to the police, the order was issued on Monday. The police said they were making the necessary arrangements.

The Criminal Court earlier decided that Ali's case would be tried online, as he was not in the Maldives. However, the State appealed the decision at the Supreme Court, and a summon was sent to Ali Waheed, asking him to present himself to court on August 12. Ali did not attend the hearing, due to which he was sentenced to two months and 12 days in jail for contempt of court. The top court later ruled that hearings cannot be held online via audio or video conferencing if the accused is not in the Maldives.

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.