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Cablegate: Detainees Remanded Into Custody Following Latest

VZCZCXYZ0000
PP RUEHWEB

DE RUEHKA #0880 1502330
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
P 302330Z MAY 07
FM AMEMBASSY DHAKA
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 4181
INFO RUEHBY/AMEMBASSY CANBERRA 0331
RUEHLM/AMEMBASSY COLOMBO 7948
RUEHIL/AMEMBASSY ISLAMABAD 1674
RUEHKT/AMEMBASSY KATHMANDU 9114
RUEHLO/AMEMBASSY LONDON 1716
RUEHNE/AMEMBASSY NEW DELHI 9924
RUEHOT/AMEMBASSY OTTAWA 0697
RUEKDIA/DIA WASHDC
RHHMUNA/CDR USPACOM HONOLULU HI
RHEHNSC/NSC WASHDC

UNCLAS DHAKA 000880

SIPDIS

SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PREL PGOV PHUM KGOV BG
SUBJECT: DETAINEES REMANDED INTO CUSTODY FOLLOWING LATEST
SWEEP BY JOINT FORCES

REF: DHAKA 867

1. (SBU) SUMMARY. Several high-profile political figures
appeared before judges on May 29 following their detention
the day before. Awami League General Secretary Abdul Jalil
and former BNP Home Minister Lutfozzoman Babar were both
remanded into custody for four days for interrogation about
corruption and "threatening instability." Meanwhile, another
high-profile detainee, Guisuddin Mamun, claimed in a court
statement that he had been secretly held by joint forces for
two months and threatened with a "crossfire" death before
being arrested officially in early March. END SUMMARY.

DETENTIONS UNDER SPECIAL POWERS ACT
===================================

2. (SBU) Over 30 political figures and businessman were
arrested by joint forces troops on May 28. Among those
detained were Awami League General Secretary Abdul Jalil,
former BNP Home Minister Lutfozzaman Babar, former Awami

League parliamentarian (and cousin of Awami League president
Sheikh Hasina) Sheikh Fazlul Karim Selim, and former
president of the Federation of Bangladeshi Chambers of
Commerce and Industry Abdul Awal Mintoo (reftel). According
to Law Adviser Mainul Hosein, the detentions were made under
the preventative detention provisions of the Special Powers
Act. He also said not all of the detainees were being
charged with corruption, that some were being held to gather
information for other cases.

3. (SBU) Several detainees, including Jalil and Babar, were
brought before the court on the evening of May 29. Jalil was
accused of corruption as well as delivering "provocative"
statements and trying to disrupt law and order. Babar was
accused of corruption and abuse of power, as well as
possession of an illegal firearm. The court remanded both
into custody for four days for questioning. Other detainees,
including Sheikh Selim and Abdul Awal Mintoo, were not
brought before the court and police refused to disclose their
status.

TARIQUE CONFIDANT ALLEGES ABUSE, SECRET DETENTION
============================================= ====

4. (SBU) Guisuddin Mamun, a businessman and confidant of
Tarique Rahman, appeared before a judge on May 29 and claimed
he had been held secretly for two months by joint forces
before his official arrest on March 25. Mamun appeared
before a special court looking into charges that he had
failed to file his wealth statement to the Anti-Corruption
Commission. In a written statement, he claimed he had been
unable to file the statement because he was already in
custody. He also said he had been threatened with a
"crossfire" execution by his interrogators.

HASINA CONTINUES TO PROTEST
===========================

5. (SBU) Sheikh Hasina continued to express publicly her
indignation about the arrests. Accusing the government of
trying to divert attention from rising prices, she said the
time limit for the state of emergency had now "expired," and
demanded elections be held immediately.

COMMENT
=======

6. (C) The law adviser's statement that some detainees are
being questioned to develop information for other cases is an
apparent reference to pending charges against Awami League
president Sheikh Hasina and perhaps BNP chairperson Khaleda
Zia. The government is clearly working hard at multiple
levels to build corruption charges against Hasina, and a
journalist contact has told us that his newspaper was
provided yesterday with an audio tape of Jalil's and Mintoo's
interrogation in which they allegedly implicate Hasina.
Events of the past few days suggest the government may be
working up to arrest Hasina and then presumably Zia, perhaps
in the very near future.
BUTENIS

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