Bodies of eight Bangladeshi return

Eight Bangladeshi nationals died en route to Italy while crossing the Mediterranean illegally. The agents had forced them into staying below the deck.

Bodies of the eight Bangladeshis, who lost their lives in the Mediterranean while moving to Italy from Libya, were flown from Libya to Hazrat Shahjalal International Airport on Thursday afternoon.Sazid Hossain

Bodies of the eight Bangladeshis, who lost their lives in the Mediterranean while moving to Italy from Libya, have arrived in the country. Their bodies were flown from Libya to Hazrat Shahjalal International Airport on Thursday afternoon. After completing the legal procedures, the bodies will be handed over to their relatives.

The deceased are Mamun Sheikh, Sajal Bairagi, Nayan Biswas, Kazi Shajib, Kaiser Khalifa, Rifat Sheikh, Russell Sheikh and Imrul Kayes. The first five of them were from Madaripur while the other three were from Gopalganj.

Relatives of the deceased persons told journalists from the airport that the agents had boarded 52 people on a small boat that could carry only 30 people. The eight people who have died were forced to lie under the deck.

They tried to come out of there due to the lack of oxygen but the agents sent them back by beating them up. They died from this torture and the lack of oxygen.

Hearing the news of the bodies’ arrival, relatives of those eight started coming to the airport right from the morning. Towards the afternoon, one member from each of those eight families was called inside the airport. The other members kept waiting outside of the airport.

After waiting for several hours, around three in the afternoon the relatives found out that there will be autopsy examination of the bodies. Some of them were enraged at this then.

Brother-in-law to deceased Kaiser Khalifa, Shawon Fakir had come to the airport from Madaripur to receive the body. He told Prothom Alo from the airport that the agents had taken Tk 800,000 (Tk 8 lakh) from Kaiser to send him to Italy from Libya. They had promised to send him to Italy on a large boat.

He said, “Since there were too many people on the boat, eight people including Kaiser were sent below the deck.” Kaiser has two left two little daughters. How will the girls grow up without their father, asked Shawon Fakir.

To receive his nephew Mamun Sheikh’s body, Selim Molla came to the airport from Madaripur in the morning. While speaking to Prothom Alo from the airport he said that his nephew had done well in his SSC and HSC examinations. Local agent Mosharraf and his accomplices had taken him to Libya via Dubai.

He said that the agents had taken Tk 1.3 million (13 lakh) from his nephew. Citing several passengers of that boat who came back alive, Selim said in a tearful voice that a large boat was supposed to carry 30 people to Italy.

But, eight people including his nephew were accommodated below the deck as there were too many people on board. When his nephew came out of the deck because of suffocation, he was tortured. And his nephew died in there, he added.

Three months ago, Kazi Shajib of Madaripur wanted to move to Italy via Libya with the help the same agent group by selling his land, cow and paddies. Kazi Shajib’s maternal cousin Golam Hossain told Prothom Alo that his brother had dreamt of having a better life by moving there. But, he returned as a body.

Case and arrest

Father of deceased Sajal Bairagi, Sunil Bairagi received the news of his son’s demise on 14 February. In this connection, a murder case was filed with the airport police station in Dhaka on 19 April under The Prevention and Suppression of Human Trafficking Act.

Jubaraj Kazi (24), his father Mosharraf Kazi (50), Rahim Sheikh (40), Kamal (38), Manika (28), Shabuj (40) and Wasim Gain (45) have been accused in the case.

According to police sources, in that case Sunil Bairagi accused that Zubaraj Kazi took away Tk 1.4 million (Tk 14 Lakh) from them in the name of sending his son Sajal to Italy. His son left the country for Dubai on last 30 December.

Sunil gave Jubaraj Kazi another Tk 650,000 (Tk 6.5 lakh) later. After his son reached Dubai, he couldn’t contact him any longer. Later on 14 February, he learnt that his son Sajal has died along with seven more Bangladeshi nationals.

Investigating officers of the case told Prothom Alo that two of the accused in this case, Jubaraj and Kamal were arrested on 20 April. They are in custody. Interrogating them in remand, police have found traces of a ring that transports people to Italy illegally on boats through the Mediterranean.

The leader of the ring is Mosharraf Kazi from Gopalganj. He lives in Libya while the other accused including his son Jubaraj collect clients in Bangladesh. The investigating officers also said, the investigation showed that about Tk 8 million (Tk 80 lakh) have been transacted through arrested Kamal’s bank account in just a month.

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After investigating the transaction of such a huge amount on a farmer’s account it was found that he had collected this sum from different people for human trafficking, they added.

Investigating officer of the case, additional deputy commissioner of Dhaka Metropolitan Police (DMP) in Uttara division Touhidul Islam told Prothom Alo that murder allegations have been brought in the case.

Postmortem examination will be done on the bodies in the presence of a magistrate. The bodies will be handed over to the families following appropriate legal procedures. All the eight bodies have been taken to Dhaka Medical College morgue, he added.