Torture in police custody

Police spat on detainee when he begged for water

Ishtiaq Hossain
Ishtiaq Hossain
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Six years ago, police picked up Ishtiaq Hossain (Jonny) and his brother Imtiaz Hossain from a wedding event in Pallabi of the capital. When the police began beating Imtiaz mercilessly at the police station, his elder brother Ishtiaq tried to intervene. The police then turned onto him and began beating him severely. Sub-inspector Zahidur Rahman held Ishtiaq to the ground, pressing his foot on Ishtiaq’s chest. Ishtiaq begged for water. Instead of water, SI Zahid spat in his face.

While announcing the verdict in the case of Ishtiaq dying in police custody, the judge mentioned him being given spit instead of water. He said such behavior by the police was a gross violation of human rights. Dhaka metropolitan sessions judge KM Imrul Kayes on Wednesday delivered the verdict on the case.

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SI Zahidur Rahman, Assistant sub-inspector (ASI) Rasehdul Islam and ASO Kamruzzaman were given life sentences and fined Tk 100,000 each. Each of them was also ordered to pay the victims’ families Tk 200,000.

Two police informants, Suman and Russel, were handed down seven-year sentences and Tk 20,000 fines each.

This verdict established that everyone was equal in the eyes of the law.
Abdullah Abu, state counsel

This is the first ever verdict under the Torture and Custodial Death (Prevention) Act passed seven years ago in 2013. Imtiaz Hossain, plaintiff and younger brother of Ishtiaq who was killed in custody, expressed satisfaction with the verdict. He told Prothom Alo that his brother was picked up and tortured inhumanly in the police station, resulting in his death. Imtiaz said they faced a lot of obstacles in carrying out this case. Bangladesh Legal Aid and Services Trust (BLAST) assisted the state prosecution in the case.

Two of the convicted persons, ASI Kamaruzzaman and informant Russel, are in hiding. SI Zahid and informant Sumon were already in jail. ASI Rashedul Islam, who had been on bail, was sent to jail after the verdict was passed. The defendants’ lawyers Faruk Ahmed and Shahinur Rahman, said they would appeal against the verdict at the Supreme Court.

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Detailing the incident, the case stated that on 8 February 2014, the ‘gaye halud’ (a wedding event) of Md Billal, resident of Irani Camp in B Block, Section 11 of Pallabi in the capital, was taking place. Police informant Suman has misbehaved with some women at the event and also told Ishtiaq and Imtiaz to leave the venue. The two bothers got into an altercation with him and Suman called the police.

The police picked up Ishtiaq and Imtiaz and tortured them at the police station. When Ishtiaq’s condition deteriorated seriously, he was taken to Dhaka Medical College Hospital where he was declared dead.

On 7 August 2014, Imtiaz filed a case in this connection under the Torture and Custodial Death (Prevention) Act. The accused in the case were Pallabi police station’s officer-in-charge (OC) Ziaur Rahman, SI Zahidur Rahman, Abdul Baten, Rashed, Shovon Kuma Saha, constable Nazrul and informants Sumon and Russel.

The court ordered a judicial investigation into the matter. The investigation report was submitted on 17 February 2015, accusing five and absolving charges against five.

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SI Rashedul and Kamaruzzaman were included as accused in the case during investigations. The verdict was passed on Wednesday after the trial ran for four years.

Speaking to newspersons, state counsel Abdullah Abu said, this verdict established that everyone was equal in the eyes of the law.

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