No progress in cases, accused being reinstated in the party

EditorialProthom Alo illustration

Back in 2019 when casinos were being raided, it was hinted from government’s top level that no one associated with this will be spared. Some were suspended from the party also.

All the bigwigs of the ruling party, involved in the casino episode, were arrested and sent behind bars. It was said then, this raid will continue outside of Dhaka as well. Everyone would be brought to book in phases.

But after a gap of four years it seems all of it was just a sham. According to Prothom Alo news, the trial of none of the 57 cases lodged against 13 people including expelled Jubo League leader Ismail Hossain alias Shamrat and Khaled Mahmud Bhuiyan has been completed. Investigation reports have been submitted in 52 cases.

List of the five cases, which have not been investigated even after four years, includes a money laundering case against Samrat and Khaled each along with multiple cases of unknown income sources against expelled Awami League leader Enamul Haque alias Enu and Rupon Bhuiyan.

Police’s Criminal Investigation Department (CID) is provided with investigating the money laundering cases filed against Samrat and Khaled. Investigating officers have said that information of Samrat siphoning off Tk 1.95 billion (195 crore) to Singapore and Malaysia has been found.

He has spent a major portion of the money, laundered away through Hundi, in the casino. In between 27 December 2011 and 9 August 2019, Samrat had been to Singapore 35 times.

Investigating officers claim that they are unable to submit the probe report for not receiving any answers from Singapore and Malaysia, despite sending letters there regarding the laundered money.

Case investigation cannot remain suspended on the excuse of not having information of laundered money from respective countries. As much time goes by, the chances of getting information will grow thinner.

Investigating officers could have submitted an investigation report based on the money-laundering information they have already received, as per their claims. They, however, didn’t do that.

In consequence, this idea that no matter how big an offence is committed by party members they won’t be prosecuted has been rooted deeply in the public mind.

Transparency International Bangladesh (TIB) executive director Iftekharuzzaman has said that in the name of delay in receiving information from abroad these criminals with links to the ruling party are being shielded. In the same way, they are being reinstated in the party as well.

This procedure of reinstating accused persons has been going on elsewhere also. Jubo League leader AKM Mominul Haque, whose name had come up in the casino incident, has returned from abroad recently after remaining in hiding for three and a half years.

Then the responsibility of Bangladesh Hockey Federation general secretary have been re-entrusted with him. Just like that, all the Awami League, Jubo League and allied organisation leaders who had been banished from the party for being involved in the casino scandal and other criminalities, are also being reinstated one by one.

Four years isn’t a short period for prosecuting or settling a criminal case. Police have arrested the accused after finding information about them of being involved in the crime during primary investigation.

If these cases are not tried or the investigations aren't completed even after that, it will send a wrong message to the public indeed. They will think, opposition leaders-activists can be framed in fabricated cases while ruling party leaders-activists can get away with major crimes.