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Monday, 17 June, 2002, 16:41 GMT 17:41 UK
Bangladesh policemen get life
Dhaka policemen chase a young demonstrator
Policemen have been accused of serious crimes

A Bangladeshi judge has strongly criticized elements of the police force after sentencing 13 policemen to life imprisonment for torturing and murdering a student.


The government needed to develop the public's confidence in the police

Bangladeshi judge
While passing sentence, the judge said that corrupt officers undermine the public's confidence in the police and that it was up to the government to act quickly and sort matters out.

The case of the murdered student, which generated much publicity, has horrified many Bangladeshis in a country that has become used to violent crime.

Human rights groups say that it highlights the sort of abuses often committed by the police who tried to cover up their involvement in the murder.

It is the second time in two years that policemen have been punished in court; last year three policemen were sentenced to death for raping and murdering a young girl.

Horrific tale

The judge presiding over the trial of the 13 policemen said the case raised serious concerns apart from the brutality of the murder.

Prime Minister Khaleda Zia
Zia is trying to improve law and order

He said it highlighted the fact that the government needed to develop the public's confidence in the police.

The judge said that questions should now be asked about the power of the police to arrest suspects without having to file charges.

This power was often being abused, the judge said, and parliament should review the law.

Such strong comments reflect the horrific circumstances of this case.

Political twists

In 1998 a 24-four year old student, Shamim Reza Rubel, was arrested by police outside his house and taken into custody solely because he refused to pay an extortion demand.

Dhaka policeman faces home-made bomb
Police powers are under close scrutiny

There he was tortured and within hours of his arrest, died from his injuries.

The court heard that the police were acting in collaboration with a woman, Mukuli Begum, who received a one-year sentence.

She is alleged to have links with the Awami League which is now the main opposition party in Bangladesh.

Such is the level of public revulsion over this crime that it has received saturation coverage in the Bangladeshi newspapers, even though violent murders are now almost an everyday occurrence.

See also:

13 May 02 | South Asia
23 Apr 02 | South Asia
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10 Dec 01 | South Asia
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