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Cablegate: Debate Over Detention of Alleged Crime Lords

VZCZCXRO0037
RR RUEHCI
DE RUEHKA #0333 0590932
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 280932Z FEB 07
FM AMEMBASSY DHAKA
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 3327
INFO RUEHIL/AMEMBASSY ISLAMABAD 1518
RUEHNE/AMEMBASSY NEW DELHI 9677
RUEHKT/AMEMBASSY KATHMANDU 8952
RUEHLM/AMEMBASSY COLOMBO 7798
RUEHCI/AMCONSUL CALCUTTA

UNCLAS DHAKA 000333

SIPDIS

SIPDIS

SENSITIVE

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PGOV PHUM BG
SUBJECT: DEBATE OVER DETENTION OF ALLEGED CRIME LORDS


1. (SBU) Summary. The appellate panel of the Supreme Court has
stayed a lower court order to release four of the dozens of people
detained on corruption suspicions. The government's appeal against
the original order is scheduled for March 5. End Summary

2. (SBU): On February 28, a Supreme Court appellate bench, on appeal
from the government, stayed the February 26 High Court order
declaring the detention of four individuals, including a former
legislator, illegal and asking GOB to release them if they are not
wanted in any other cases. The stay is valid until the appellate
panel takes up the government appeal on March 5. The four detainees
are former Awami League (AL) legislator Kamal Ahmed Majumder, Dhaka
City Corporation (DCC) commissioner Quaiyum Khan, and Aminul Islam,
Director, and Abul Quashem Paulash, Deputy Director of Proshika, a
major non-governmental organization that the last government had
attacked as pro-Awami League.

3. (SBU) Since the promulgation of the state of emergency on January
11, the military-led Joint Forces have detained hundreds of people,
including former ministers and legislators, on suspicion of
corruption or other crimes. The government issued 30-day detention
orders for dozens of the detainees, mostly those known to have
political connections, under the 1974 Special Powers Act (SPA) meant
for preventive detention. According to the Attorney General's
office, 25 of the SPA detainees have challenged their detentions to
the High Court, and the February 26 judgment was the first decision
given in response. More judgments are expected in the next few
weeks. (Note: A September 2000 parliamentary study of SPA
detentions showed that the HC declared illegal 98.8 percent of the
69,010 detentions over 26 years.)

4. (SBU) Deputy Attorney General Adilur Rahman Khan told us the GOB
will try to implicate the detainees in previously or freshly filed
criminal cases to be able to keep them in custody and provide time
for collecting evidence. Law Adviser Mainul Hosein told the media
on February 26 that the government BDG plan to release about 3000
ordinary convicts from prisons on the eve of the March 26
Independence Day to make room for new detainnes in the overcrowded
prisons. A former BNP legislator told us that the GOB position is
the anti-corruption law itself authorizes the detention of
corruption suspects.

5. (SBU) The GOB has yet to acknowledge, or produce to the courts
within the mandated 24 hours, several persons widely believed to
have been picked up in the anti-corruption sweep. The most
prominent of these is Giasuddin Mamun, a close friend and business
partner of former Tarique Rahman, who was reportedly detained one
month ago. Three more individuals - Waliul Islam, former director
of scandal-plagued and Tarique-linked Oriental Bank; another Tarique
Rahman associate, businessman Anis Ahmed; and businessman Anwar -
disappeared from Dhaka on February 25. The government has ignored
press queries on these persons.

PASI

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