Accused stay at hospitals avoiding jail on 'medical grounds'

Mahbubul Haque Chisti and ZM Salehin

A section of accused have been staying at different hospitals instead of at the jail, claiming that they have been suffering from various diseases including fungal infection and stomach ache.

In connection with the matter, the authorities of Dhaka Central Jail in Keraniganj are frequently sending letters to the authorities of the hospitals. Despite that, the accused could not be produced before the court, sources have said.

Sources also said a number of accused have been staying at hospitals through such manipulations in a bid to pass time comfortably and disrupt trial proceedings.

A number of accused, including Mahbubul Haque Chisti, ZM Salehin and Omar Faruk, are now in hospitals instead of at the jail. Chisti has been arrested on charges of financial irregularities at Farmers Bank, Salehin for leaking question papers of medical college admission test and Faruk is a convicted in a case filed over the money embezzlement of Destiny.

Some of them said they are suffering from fungal infection, stomach ache while some said they need dialysis. Trial proceedings of some of them are being disrupted as they are staying at hospitals.

Speaking to Prothom Alo, Dhaka Central Jail's senior jail super Shuvash Kumar Ghosh said, "We are sending letters repeatedly to the hospital authorities to return them to jail. But they are not sending them. Letters are sent to the hospital authorities at an interval of 15 days."

On 10 April in 2018, the Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) arrested former chairman of the auditing committee of Farmers Bank (now Padma Bank), Mahbubul Haque Chisti, in a case filed over embezzlement and laundering of Tk 1.60 billion. Afterwards, he stayed at the hospital several times, claiming that he was ill.

He has been staying at Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujib Medical University (BSMMU) for about two months. According to the jail documents, he has been suffering from uncontrolled fungal infection. He was brought to the BSMMU for better treatment from Kashimpur central jail on 26 August.

Currently, trial proceedings in 18 cases are underway against him.

Farmers Bank, which was approved on political considerations in 2012, indulged in irregularities immediately after it came into operation. Due to trust issues depositors had withdrawn money from the bank. As the condition of the bank worsened, chairman of the bank and former home minister Mohiuddin Khan Alamgir and bank's audit committee chairman Mahbubul Haque Chisti were forced to resign from their respective positions.

Keraniganj Central Jail super sent a letter to BSMMU director (hospital) Rejaur Rahman saying that Mahbubul Haque Chisti could not be produced before the court as he has been staying at the hospital for a long time.

In the letter, he further wrote that the trial proceedings against Chisti are also being disrupted. As a result, the court had negative impressions of the jail authorities. The prisoner needs to be produced before the court soon, it added.

The jail authorities sent the last letter on 30 September.

Speaking to Prothom Alo, Rejaur Rahman said, "I have no jurisdiction to talk on this."

Physician ZM Salehin, who was arrested on charges of leaking questions of medical admission tests, has been staying at the hospital, showing an excuse that he is ill. The Criminal Investigation Department (CID) of police arrested him in the first week of August.

CID at the time said Salehin is one of the members of a gang that is involved in leaking questions of the medical admission test. This gang has leaked questions 10 times in 16 years. After arrest, he has been staying at Ward No 901 on the 9th floor of Dhaka Medical College since 19 August. According to the document of the jail, he has been suffering from kidney disease.

According to CID, Salehin has completed MBBS from Sir Salimullah Medical College in Dhaka. Later he was involved in leaking questions of a medical college admission test through a coaching centre named Three-Doctors.

He earned a huge amount of money through leaking questions. He was arrested in 2015 on charges of leaking questions.

Omar Faruk, who is convicted in a case filed over embezzlement and money laundering of Destiny Group, is now at BSMMU.  

It is being said he has been suffering from stomach ache and he has a peptic ulcer.

Omar Faruk has been staying at this hospital since 3 October.

The court sentenced 46 people to different terms, including Omar Faruk in a case filed over embezzlement of Tk 18.61 billion collected from investors in the name of Destiny Multipurpose Co-operative Society.

Another case of money embezzlement of Destiny is going on.

Besides, a section of prisoners, who committed various crimes including murder, acid violence, violence against women and children, cheating and robbery, have been staying in the hospitals.

Dhaka Central Jail's physician Mahmudul Hasan said 32 prisoners are currently staying at the hospitals.

When asked about Mahbubul Haque Chisti and ZM Salehin, home minister Asaduzzaman Khan said, "He would look into the matter as to why they have been staying at the hospitals for so many days.

Besides, a section of BNP leaders, who are ill, have been staying at the hospitals.

*This report, originally published in Prothom Alo print and online editions, has been rewritten in English by Rabiul Islam.