Monday, September 17, 2007

A 65-year-old man allegedly tortured to death by police

Source: Asian Human Rights Commission
Date: September 17, 2007

The Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) has received information regarding the death of a man in custody of the Kotwali Police 2 July 2007. He allegedly died in the hospital after four days of detention in the police station. Even though the dead body clearly showed bruises and remarks, the police reports were in complete contradiction with the evidence of injuries shown on the body as well as testimonies from the families and witnesses.

CASE DETAILS: (based on the testimonies from family and witnesses)

Md. Munsur Ali Miridha, 65 years-old, was a resident of Master Paara of Shashongacha in Comilla Sadar Upazila. He was taken from his home on June 27 around 6:30pm by a man named Lokman and another man in plain clothes, under Section 16 (2) of the Emergency Power Ordinance 2007 that allows security forces to make arrests without warrants. Lokman accused Munsur of involvement in drug peddling, and told him that the Officer in Charge (OC) of the Kotwali Police Station was waiting for him. Munsur was then taken away on a police van by the two men. A family member tried to give Munsur his medicine but this was refused and the person was beaten.

Munsur was brought to court on June 28 and the court granted four days of remand based on the application of the police.

On June 29, Munsur's son Selim Miah went to the police station to visit his father at around 5:30pm. Munsur told Selim that Lokman had paid Taka 20,000 (USD 300) to the OC on behalf of a former member of local government whom Munsur had a grudge with to ensure that Munsur would be kept in detention. On the other hand, Selim negotiated with Sub-Inspector Roushan Ali, and paid him Taka 8,000 (USD 118) through Constable Kalam, in exchange for the his father's early release.

However, at 3:15am on July 2, Munsur's family was informed by three policemen from the Kotwali Police Station that Munsur was ill and had been transferred to the Comilla General Hospital. The family went to the hospital and found Munsur's dead body, which bore bruises on his back, thighs, knees, and feet.

Nasir, an inmate who was detained in the same police station testified that he saw Munsur being taken to another room where he was beaten up by the OC. He and other detainees witnessed the scene and heard Munsur's screams. When Munsur was taken back to the cell, a constable even kicked him on the waist, causing him to fall. Nasir recalled that there are marks seen as evidence of torture on Munsur's knees, thighs and feet.

Selim admitted that his father used to collect money from drug peddlers on behalf of the Kotwali Police, but he had stopped doing so for two years.

The Kotwali Police claimed that Munsur felt ill at around 2:00am on July 2 and was found to be dead on arrival at the hospital. The inquest report from the Kotwali Police suggested that Munsur's body did not bear any marks of torture; the inquest from a three-member committee formed by the Comilla District Police also reached a similar conclusion. However, the two reports conducted by the police were totally contradicted by the testimonies from his families and witnesses.

Even though there are witnesses to the torture in custody and also the fact that his dead body clearly showed evidence, this were not considered seriously. An impartial investigation to discover the cause of the death, including an independent postmortem examination should be conducted in any case in which the police are allegedly involved. However they themselves conducted investigations into the cause of death.

In addition, the alleged corruption of Kotwali police station involved in collecting drug money and should also be investigated.

Please write to the relevant authorities and urge them to launch an independent and thorough investigation on Munsur's death. Please also urge them to investigate the alleged corruption of the police in collecting drug money.

Click here for the format of a suggested letter to the Authority.

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