Search

 

Cablegate: Corruption Trial of Human Rights Activist Commences

VZCZCXRO4558
RR RUEHCI
DE RUEHKA #1155/01 1980903
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 170903Z JUL 07
FM AMEMBASSY DHAKA
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 4521
INFO RUEHNE/AMEMBASSY NEW DELHI 0033
RUEHIL/AMEMBASSY ISLAMABAD 1736
RUEHKT/AMEMBASSY KATHMANDU 9179
RUEHLM/AMEMBASSY COLOMBO 8009
RUEHCI/AMCONSUL KOLKATA 0831
RUCNDT/USMISSION USUN NEW YORK
RHHMUNA/USCINCPAC HONOLULU HI

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 DHAKA 001155

SIPDIS

SIPDIS

STATE/G/TIP FOR SALLY NEUMANN

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PGOV KDEM KWMN PHUM BG
SUBJECT: CORRUPTION TRIAL OF HUMAN RIGHTS ACTIVIST COMMENCES

REF: DHAKA 00956

1. (SBU) SUMMARY. The corruption trial of human rights
activist Sigma Huda (referred to locally as Sigma) and her
husband, former government minister Nazrul Huda, began on
July 9. At her first appearance in court on July 5 Sigma
appeared frail but ambulatory. During the first week of the
trial her health seemed to have improved. Prison officials
also guaranteed her access to her private physician. END
SUMMARY.

CORRUPTION TRIAL OF SIGMA AND NAZRUL HUDA BEGINS
============================================= ===

2. (SBU) The corruption trial of Sigma Huda and her husband
Nazrul began on July 9 in Dhaka. Sigma is the secretary
general of the Bangladesh Society for the Enforcement of
Human Rights (BSEHR) and president of the Bangladesh National
Women Lawyers Association (BNWLA). Sigma is also serving a
three-year term as UN Special Rapporteur on Trafficking in
Persons (reftel). Her husband Nazrul was the Communications
Minister in the previous government of the Bangladesh
Nationalist Party (BNP).

3. (SBU) Sigma was charged with corruption in her capacity as
publisher of a news magazine. She stands accused of
receiving 240 million taka ($3.6 million) from a contractor
of the Roads and Highway Department, which was part of her
husband's ministry.

4. (SBU) On July 5, the Supreme Court overturned a High Court
injunction that had prevented police from detaining Sigma.
The following day, Sigma appeared before the Special Judge's
Court in Dhaka for the framing of charges against her. She
arrived at the court in an ambulance, and was brought into
the chamber on a stretcher with oxygen tubes in her nose.
The judge in the case denied a petition by Sigma's lawyers to
postpone the process on medical grounds, and ordered the
trial to commence on July 9.

NEW ALLEGATIONS ARISE
=====================

5. (SBU) New corruption charges were filed against Sigma,
along with BSEHR Executive Director Alena Khan, on July 9. A
contractor with the Roads and Highways Department alleged
that he was never paid for approximately $2,000 in
construction work he completed for BSEHR. He claims when he
attempted to collect payment for the work, Sigma threatened
to have her husband create problems for him in collecting
payment for work done for the Roads and Highways Department.

SIGMA'S HEALTH A CONCERN
========================

6. (SBU) Post spoke with Sigma's sister Khushi Kabir after
Sigma's initial court appearance. Khushi said Sigma suffered
from heart and kidney problems as well as diabetes. She has
three stents in her heart, and was scheduled to go to
Singapore for a check-up and possible surgery when the
charges against her were filed in June. On the day she was
detained, she had undergone an angiogram at the hospital.

7. (SBU) Khushi said the court had denied Sigma's lawyers'
petition to grant her "division" -- privileged status that
permits VIP detainees to be held in nicer facilities. Khushi
expressed concern that her sister was not getting adequate
medical attention. The Charge mentioned the health concerns
to Foreign Advisor Iftekhar Chowdhury on July 10. He said he
was unaware of her illness, noting he had received calls on
the issue and promised to follow up.

8. (SBU) When her trial began on July 9, Sigma appeared
healthier. She used the normal police van to get from prison
to court, and sat up during proceedings and required no
oxygen or assistance. Khushi said she had been permitted to
see Sigma once at prison, and Sigma was able to speak to her
family every day at court. She also had access to her
private lawyers.

9. (SBU) In response to concerns about Sigma's health, Deputy
Inspector General of Prisons Shamsul Haider Siddiqui held a
news briefing in which he said prison authorities were
"looking after her carefully." He said she is being held in

DHAKA 00001155 002 OF 002


the same area as three other female VIP prisoners, and that
she can see her private physician whenever she requests.

10. (SBU) Post continues to monitor developments in this case
closely.
PASI

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
World Headlines

 

Gordon Campbell: On The Washington Riot And The Georgia Results
Hong Kong and Washington DC. On the same morning, the tyrants in power in Beijing and their counterpart in the White House have shown how they refuse to accept the legitimacy of any different points of view, and the prospect of losing power… More>>

WHO: Vaccination No Guarantee Of Virus Eradication

In the final World Health Organization (WHO) COVID-19 press conference of the year, on Monday, senior officials warned that the virus is 'not necessarily the big one', and that there is a real chance of another, more serious pandemic spreading ... More>>

Covid: Two Billion COVID Vaccine Doses Secured, WHO Says End Of Pandemic Is In Sight

The end of the pandemic is in sight but we must not let our guard down, the head of the World Health Organization (WHO) said on Friday, as he welcomed the news that the global vaccine partnership COVAX has lined up almost two billion doses of existing ... More>>

UN: Guterres To Seek Second Five-year Term
António Guterres will be seeking a second five-year term as UN Secretary-General, which would begin in January 2022.... More>>


UN Rights Office: Iran Execution Of Child Offender Breaks International Law

The execution of an Iranian man for a crime allegedly committed when he was 16 years old has been condemned by the UN Human Rights Office (OHCHR) and raised concerns over violations of his right to a fair trial. In a statement released on Thursday, ... More>>

UN News: Fighting Displaces Over 500,000 In Northern Mozambique, Reports UN Refuge Agency

Attacks by armed groups in Mozambique’s Cabo Delgado, Nampula, Zambezia and Niassa provinces have displaced more than 530,000 people, many of whom have been forced to move multiple times, the UN refugee agency (UNHCR) said on Friday. According to ... More>>