Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Articles on the police investigation into the murder of Cesare Tavella

On 28 September, the Italian national, Cesare Tavella was shot to death with eye-witnesses pointing to the involvement of three people, two of whom were on a motorbike. Islamic state claimed responsibility for the murder, though the government says that this is not true.

The police authorities have arrested five people - the three people who they say were present at the scene of the murder, the person who provided the bike (all four of whom have provided confessional statements) and the alleged financier of the operation, who is the brother of an opposition party ward commissioner who has been out of the country since April this year.

Here are four articles published in New Age newspaper concerning the police investigation. (Also see here an overall analysis of the investigation)

‘I was threatened with crossfire’, accused tells family (New Age, November 11)David Bergman and Muktadir Rashid
Another man accused of the murder of Italian citizen Cesare Tavella in Dhaka has told his family that he gave a confessional statement to a metropolitan magistrate as he was ‘brutally tortured’ and ‘threatened with cross fire.’
Four relatives of the accused, Rasel Chowdhury, met him on Saturday in Kashimpur Central Jail where he had been remanded two days earlier by a metropolitan magistrate after confessing to his involvement in the murder on September 28 of the Italian NGO worker in Gulshan’s diplomatic zone.
On October 26, along with three other men, Rasel was presented to the media and accused of involvement in the murder of Cesara. Police said that all the four were arrested the previous night, though witnesses claimed that the men were picked up separately two weeks earlier between October 10 and 15.

According to the family members, Rasel told them that after he was picked up from his home on the morning of 10 October, he was taken to the Detective Branch office and ‘tortured for 18 days continuously.’
‘Many times I became unconscious. I cannot hold a cup in my hands now because of the beatings,’ his mother, Afroza Akhter, quoted Rasel as telling the family members when they met him in jail. Rasel’s mother, who is a Bangladesh Nationalist Party activist, said that her son had told them that during his period of detention he was twice taken in the early morning to Hatirjheel area in Dhaka and ‘threatened with crossfire’.
She said that it was unclear from the conversation with her son whether this happened before he was presented to the media on October 26 or after. ‘He said that the second time he was taken to Hatirjheel, one of the officers told him, “Just run away, we know you are a good boy,” but Rasel just knelt down and grabbed the man’s legs and begged him,’ Afroza told New Age.
‘He said to the officer, “Sir, I am the only son in my family, whatever you want me to say I will say,”’ his mother said, recalling the conversation she had with her son in jail the previous day. His sister,
Subarna Chowdhury, who was also present during the jail visit, said that Rasel had told the family members that after this experience, he agreed to give a confessional statement.
‘Rasel then told us that he later asked the officer “What should I say? I don’t know what you want me to say?”, and the officer said, “Read this. And say this to the magistrate in your own words,” Subarna said explaining that the officer had given his brother a document to read.
Detective Branch inspector Zeahad Hossain, in charge of the investigation into the murder of the Italian citizen, dismissed both the allegations of torture and crossfire threats. ‘They are men of the BNP. Since the big fish has been caught, the families have been financed to provide such misleading information. The allegations are straightforward lies,’ he said.
Rasel Chowdhury was the last of the four men to have given a confessional statement to the magistrate. Last week, New Age reported that Tamzid Ahmed Rubel, the first of the four men to ‘confess’ on October 26, had told his family during a jail visit the following day that he was not involved in the murder and was coerced into giving his confession to the magistrate.
The paper has also reported that witnesses confirmed that Rasel Chowdhury was picked up at about 11:00am on October 10 from his home in South Badda by inspector Zeahad Hossain. Zeahad denies this.
The family told New Age that when they first saw him in jail on Saturday, Rasel just cried. ‘He said, “I did not ever imagine I would see you again,” Rasel’s sister described him saying.
‘We could see that his hand was seriously damaged, and one of his thumbs was useless,’ his mother said. ‘He told us that he had almost lost his feeling in his hand due to the torture.’
The family claimed that Rasel had also been mentally affected by the torture. ‘He couldn’t remember his own telephone number or even the name of this father,’ his sister, Subarna said.
‘At one time the officers told him, “If you don’t make a confessional statement, we will arrest your father and brother-in-law and strip them naked,”’ his mother said. According to his sister, Rasel told them that at one time during his detention he was driven to the place where Cesare was murdered without a blindfold on
Quayum’s brother missing after abduction (New Age, November 5)
David Bergman and Muktadir Rashid

Brother of former BNP ward commissioner MA Quayum, alleged by the home minister to be a mastermind behind the killing of Italian citizen Cesare Tavella, went missing after being forced into a microbus by civil dressed men two weeks ago, family and witnesses said.
Badda police station officer-in-charge MA Jalil confirmed to New Age that a general diary was filed with the police station on October
27 by a family member stating that Quayum’s brother MA Matin went missing on October 20.
Local shop-keepers and other witnesses said that the men who took Quayum’s brother MA Matin that day were not carrying arms and there were no identifying marks on the vehicle.
They, however, assumed that law enforcement officials were involved in the incident.
‘Whether they were police, DB [Detective Branch], or RAB [Rapid Action Battalion] I don’t know…but who else other than law enforcement people could have taken him like that,’ witness Amir Hossain said.
Law enforcement officials, however, denied that Matin, aged about 50 years, was in their custody. Dhaka Metropolitan Police deputy commissioner (media and public relations) Muntasirul Islam and Rapid Action Battalion legal and media wing director Mufti Mahmud Khan said that they had ‘no information about the arrest of MA Matin.’
On October 29, home minister Asaduzzaman Khan told journalists that Quayum, a BNP ward commissioner at Badda, was the ‘Bara Bhai’ who had hired the four men who allegedly killed Tavella.
A day later, the minister corrected himself saying that Quayum was ‘one of’ the top suspects.
Quayum has denied any involvement in the killing and said by phone from Malaysia that he had been abroad for the past six months and was being framed by the police.
‘I have information that police have already threatened my brother that they will kill him in a “crossfire” if he does not give a confessional statement that I have sent him money to carry out the killing,’ he is reported to have told a national daily.
Last week, New Age reported that the four men, who were presented to the media on October 25 and accused of killing the Italian aid worker, were in fact detained by law enforcement officials between 10 to 15 days earlier.
According to the constitution, any person must be produced before a court in 24 hours after his/her arrest or detention.
On October 20, Matin left his house at about 7:30pm to go for Isha prayers at a local mosque. He stopped at the end of the road and had a quick chat with corner-shop owner Rabiul Islam Prince.
‘Matin bhai told me that he was building a security gate at the end of the road for greater personal security,’ Rabiul said.
A man then came up and led Matin away in the direction of a microbus parked about 10 metres away in front of the shop adjacent to Rabiul.
‘The man told Matin, “Come with me”, but I did not hear anything else…I assumed that he must be Matin’s friend,’ the shop keeper said.
Another local person, a driver, Amir Hossain, said that he was also standing at the corner.
‘When this person approached and said, “Come with me”, two men came out of the parked microbus and he was then pushed in to the vehicle,’ Amir said.
Abul Hossain, the owner of the shop where the microbus was parked, said, ‘The microbus had been parked there for only a few minutes.’
He said, ‘Two men from the microbus pushed him in, and closed the door. It happened so quickly that no one had time to react.’
Locals said that Matin did not cry out.
Four suspects ‘detained weeks earlier’ than police claim (New Age, October 30)
David Bergman and Muktadir Rashid

On the night of October 14, Mohammed Ripon, a young man barely in his teens, was asleep on a wooden bed on the ground floor of a small block of flats at Madhya Badda, where he used to work as a caretaker.
He was woken up by banging on the gate. ‘There were about 10 men and a woman in plain clothes,’ he told New Age. ‘They said that they were police. I opened the gate,’ he said. ‘They then asked to see Sharif,’ the young caretaker said, referring to 35-year-old Shakhawat Hossain Sharif whose family owned the block of flats.
The caretaker took the police to the roof of the building where Sharif lived in a single room. ‘They immediately handcuffed him [Shakhawat]. They wanted his mobile phone and the keys to his bike,’ Ripon said.
‘One of the policemen had a small hammer, and he started to hit him with it.’ Sumon, one of Shakhawat’s brothers, an active member of the local unit of the ruling Awami League’s youth organisation, also lived in the building and went upstairs to see what was going on.
‘I saw my brother being questioned, beaten and taken away,’ Sumon said. The men also broke the lock of Sharif’s motorbike and wheeled it out of the garage.
The next time Sumon saw his brother was on television 10 days later when he was one of the four men, all of them friends from Badda, paraded before the media and accused of killing Italian aid worker Cesare Tavella at the end of September. The bike taken from the house was also present at the press conference with the police claiming that it was used by the killers of Tavella to escape the murder scene.
The Dhaka Metropolitan Police Commissioner told the media that Shakhawat and the three other men had been arrested on October 25, the night before the press conference. However interviews with family members and independent witnesses, confirm that all four of the men were detained two weeks earlier.
Police are required by law to obtain the court’s permission before detaining a person more than 24 hours.
The sequence of detentions started on October 10. At about 1100am, Russel Chowdhury, unemployed for the last seven months, was watching television at his South Badda house. ‘I was standing by the front door gossiping when I saw four men come into the house through the back entrance,’ Russel’s mother Afroza Akhter said.
The men handcuffed Russel and took him into the front room. A neighbour, Yasmin Akhter, confirmed that she saw Russel sitting handcuffed on the couch. ‘The police officer was interrogating him and Russel was asking him, “Why do you want to take me from my home,” and the policeman said “Don’t you know why we are here?”’
Just before Russel was taken away, the family members asked one of the men to give them a contact number. One of the officers wrote on a piece of paper ‘Zeahad, Minto Road’ with a telephone number. New Age has confirmed that the number belongs to inspector Zeahad Hossain, the investigation officer of the Travera murder case.
Zeahad Hossain said that the claim that he detained Shakhawat on October 10 was ‘totally false.’
The other two men accused of the murder were both picked up on the evening of October 12, close to the Gulshan-Badda link road.
‘At about 5:00pm, my brother borrowed Tk 100 from my mother and went out of the house,’ a sister of Minhajul Abedin Russel said. ‘A few hours later we got a call saying that he had been picked up by the Detective Branch from outside Walton shop on the main road.’
Tamjid Ahmed Rubel also did not return home that evening. On Wednesday, New Age reported that Tamjid had told his family during a jail visit that on the evening of October 12 he was picked up by detectives on the link road and taken to their Minto Road office where he was detained before being presented to the media on Monday.
The Metropolitan Police Commissioner has repeatedly denied claims that the men were arrested before October 25. 
‘I was tortured to confess’ Tamjid tells family (New Age, October 28)
David Bergman and Muktadir Rashid 
A man, whom law enforcers claimed shot dead Italian aid worker Cesare Tavella in Dhaka on September 28, told his family during a jail visit on Tuesday that he had no involvement in the crime and that his confession to a magistrate was coerced through torture.
The man, Tamzid Ahmed Rubel, also told his family that. he was not arrested on Sunday night but picked up by Detective Branch officials on October 12 and taken to Detective Branch headquarters on Minto Road, where he was detained for two weeks.On Monday, the Dhaka Metropolitan Police Commissioner at a press conference claimed that Rubel was one of four men involved in the killing of Tavella in the capital’s diplomatic zone Gulshan. He said that all the men had been arrested on Sunday night.
The commissioner said that three of the men had followed Tavella into Road-90 at Gulshan, and Rubel had then dismounted from the motorbike, shot Tavella and then escaped with the others on the bike. After the press conference Rubel reportedly made a confession before a metropolitan magistrate admitting the police commissioner’s statement.
Tamjid’s uncle Mainuddin Ahmed Tawhid, however, told New Age that Tamjid told him during a jail visit on Tuesday morning that he was not involved in the murder.
‘He told to me, “I don’t know anything about the crime…I was in no way involved in it…Had I any link with the crime I would definitely not have stayed in Dhaka. I would have gone into hiding,”’ Tawhid said.
‘I was tortured to confess to the crime,’ Tamjid was quoted by Tawhid to have told him.
‘Tamjid said that they [detectives] had tortured him in the left leg so much that he couldn’t walk properly, and that the law enforcers were pushing him and asked him repeatedly to confess to the crime and so he was forced to do it,’ Tawhid said.
Tawhid said that he had also asked Tamjid where he had been since the afternoon of October 12, as the family had not seen him since then.
‘Tamjid said that on that evening he was picked up from the Gulshan Badda link Road by detectives, and had been kept since then in the DB office,’ Tawhid said.
The family members of the three other accused, also claim that the three were picked up by law enforcement officials between October 11 and 15.
Detective Branch Investigation officer inspector Zeahad Hossain denied Tamjid’s allegation, saying that the family might have raised the allegation to save their relative. ‘All procedures for the recording of the confession were followed,’ he said.
On Monday, a metropolitan magistrate remanded Russel Chowdhury, Minhajul Abedin Russel and Shakhawat Hossain Sharif in police custody for eight days for interrogation. Tamzid was remanded to jail after the recording of the reported confession.

No comments:

Post a Comment