Money, jail and days in hospital

GK Shamim, Samrat, Rafiqul Amin and Azam Reza
GK Shamim, Samrat, Rafiqul Amin and Azam Reza

Controversial contractor SM Golam Kibria alias GK Shamim, who was arrested in the casino scam, has been in the hospital for about four months. Shamim, also accused in arms and drug cases, was sent to the hospital from jail for ‘removal of the plate from the wound on his right hand’. He was to be sent to jail within two days after the treatment procedure is completed. But despite six letters written to the hospital authorities, he was not sent back.

He is now spending his days in an air-conditioned room of the hospital with complaints of 'chest pain' and his relatives visit him on a regular basis, according to sources at the hospital. On July 9, the jail authorities last sent a letter to Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujib Medical University (BSMMU), asking the accused to be sent back. But the hospital authorities have not replied yet.

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GK Shamim is not the only one, according to the latest monthly report of the Department of Prisons, hundreds of accused or convicted prisoners stay out of the jail posing as patients requiring treatment at the hospital throughout the year. Some of them have been in the hospital for months, years after years. Ismail Hossain Chowdhury alias Samrat, an expelled leader of Juba League, was arrested in connection with the casino scam. He has now been in the hospital for eight months.

Others who has been spending months in the hospital ‘for various reasons’ include Destiny Group managing director Rafiqul Amin, who was accused of embezzling and laundering millions, former director general of the National Security Intelligence (NSI) Ohidul Haque, accused in a case of crimes against humanity, Azam Reza, sentenced for life in schoolteacher and architect Jayanti Reza murder case, Gopal Chandra Kuri, accused in the murder case of his wife Chhabi Kuri and Sohap Hossain and SM Uddin, who were involved in illegally sending 26 Bangladeshi workers to Libya who were later killed there by terrorists.

Prison authorities claim that they had written at least 30 letters asking for the return of some of the prisoners but to no avail. Some of them were sent to hospitals as per the demand of high-ranking government officials or influential people.

Speaking on the issue, Inspector General of Prisons (IG Prisons) Brig Gen AKM Mostafa Kamal Pasha told Prothom Alo, "If prisoners are sick, we send them to the hospital. But it is the responsibility of the hospital authorities to send them back with clearance. We send a letter every 15 days asking for the return of the accused. Hospital authorities will be able to explain why they are not sending them back.”

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Asked about the allegations made by the jail authorities, BSMMU vice-chancellor Kanak Kanti Barua told Prothom Alo, “It is a crime not to send the prisoners back to the jail after they are treated. But I don't know who are coming or when they are going. I have not been informed. I would ask the director to send them back quickly. Moreover, patients cannot stay in the hospital for months for treatment, no matter what kind of disease they have.”

Samrat in hospital for eight months

Ismail Hossain Chowdhury alias Samrat has been in BSMMU for about eight months now after being admitted with 'chest pain'. Till July 9, the jail authorities have sent 11 letters, asking the hospital to send him back. Samrat was arrested on October 8 last year during a crackdown on a casino at a sports club. He has been charged under the Narcotics and Weapons Act and for acquiring assets illegally. He was admitted to BSMMU on November 24. He is in the SDU, which is the one between intensive care unit and general service unit.

Samrat's physician Chowdhury Meskat Ahmed told Prothom Alo that the patient's problem could get critical at any time. He is not being discharged due to his irregular heartbeat.

On April 4, contractor GK Shamim was sent to the hospital from jail to replace the plate of a wound in his hand. There was also high-level lobbying to send him to the hospital. Now the doctors at the hospital say that even though all arrangements have been made for Shamim's surgery, he is not agreeing to remove the plate. Prison doctor Mahmudul Hasan said, "We sent him for the treatment of his hand. Now I hear that he is being treated for chest pain.” The arrest of Shamim on September 20 last year during an anti-casino operation with enormous amount of money, drugs, weapons and bodyguards sparked a discussion in the country.

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GK Shamim's illness

On April 4, contractor GK Shamim was sent to the hospital from jail to replace the plate of a wound in his hand. There was also high-level lobbying to send him to the hospital. Now the doctors at the hospital say that even though all arrangements have been made for Shamim's surgery, he is not agreeing to remove the plate. Prison doctor Mahmudul Hasan said, "We sent him for the treatment of his hand. Now I hear that he is being treated for chest pain.” The arrest of Shamim on September 20 last year during an anti-casino operation caused a stir in the country. Huge cash, drugs and weapons were seized in the drive.

27 letters

According to prison documents, Rafiqul Amin has been in BIRDEM and BSMMU hospitals most of the time as a patient since his arrest in 2012. The Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) has filed a case against him and other Destiny Group officials for embezzling and smuggling around Tk 40 billion. He was last admitted to BSMMU on March 11 last year. He has been in a hospital room for about a year and four months. So far 27 letters have been sent to the hospital to send him back to the jail. But his relatives and prison doctors claim that he is ill.

There are more

Azam Reza, who was sentenced to life in prison in the murder case of schoolteacher and architect Jayanti Reza, has been in the hospital for about five months. The hospital has been sent six letters regarding his return. The lower court had sentenced Azam Raza to death for killing his wife Jayanti Reza. Later, the High Court reduced it to lifetime imprisonment. Jayanti, an Australian International School teacher, was killed on January 9, 2004 at their Banani home.

Former NSI DG Ohidul Haque, accused in a case of crimes against humanity, was arrested in April 2018. Awarded division in the prison, he has been at BSMMU since November 20 last year. Prison authorities have written 10 letters asking for his return, but to no avail.

Supreme Court lawyer Shahdeen Malik told Prothom Alo, “It is clear that the law is lax for people who have money. If you spend money in this country, everything is possible. Money is more powerful here than influence. They are staying in the hospital day after day because of the money they have.”