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Report: ACC investigation officers to blame for Jahalam's wrongful conviction

  • Published at 02:08 am July 12th, 2019
web_Jahalam
File photo of jute factory worker Jahalam, who has spent the last three years in jail instead of the real accused in 33 graft cases Focus Bangla

The investigation officers' reports on Jahalam's so-called loan fraud, was based on information divulged by Bangladesh Bank and Sonali Bank

An Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) report has revealed that "mistake" by the investigation officers of the anti-graft watchdog resulted in the wrongful conviction of Jahalam.

The investigation officers' reports on Jahalam's so-called loan fraud, was based on information divulged by Bangladesh Bank and Sonali Bank, reads the report

The information was mentioned in a report by the ACC's internal probe body formed over jute worker Jahalam's conviction, which was placed before the High Court yesterday.

A one-member ACC committee, led by its Director (legal) Abul Hasnat Md Abdul Wadud, prepared the latest report that ACC counsel Khurshid Alam Khan placed before the bench of Justices FRM Nazmul Ahsan and KM Kamrul Kader.

Wadud also mentioned in the report that this was their first investigation, and suggested that a case of such sensitive nature should have been investigated by more experienced and capable officials. “Since they were new officials, with very little experience, this sort of mistake happened,” the report added. 

Earlier, Jahalam was sued in 33 cases over loan fraud and embezzlement of Tk18.5 crore from Sonali Bank Limited, leading to his incarceration for three years.

He was freed from jail on February 4 after the High Court acquitted him in 26 cases in which charges had been pressed.

The jute mill worker had been in jail since February 2016, while the real accused, Abu Salek, is still absconding.

On page 18 of the report, the investigator said: "Considering the overall situation, I feel that the mistake in identifying Jahalam as Salek was made by the investigation officers.  

"Shockingly, a number of bank officials were not charged in spite of their link to the scam," the report found.

The report also said 12 officials investigated the scam and submitted their findings, but none of them visited Jahalam's hometown in Tangail's Nagorpur upazila. 

"But a visit to his shabby home clearly raises the question as to how a man having crores of taka can live in such a poor condition," ACC Director Wadud mentioned in the report.

He also said that the first case over the fraud was filed back on February 14, 2010 with the Motijheel police station.

Afterwards, police launched an investigation—but the case was later transferred to the ACC which filed the 33 lawsuits. In the meantime, a final report on the first case was also submitted.

"There was no need to file 33 cases [over the embezzlement]," Wadud opined.

Reacting over the report, Amit Das Gupta, a counsel standing for the June 27 High Court directive that asked for the probe report, said it was prepared following thorough investigation.

He said: "I believe the investigation carried out by the committee seems it tried to identify the real culprits. The report also recommended ending repetition of such an incident.

"I hope the ACC will not make the same mistake again," he hoped. 

In the report, ACC Director Wadud placed four recommendations to prevent such wrongful convictions and to the reform the investigation process.

The recommendations are: establishing a monitoring system on inquiry and investigation; introducing the "Trail the Money" system; establishing a Forensic Accounts Department; and adopting a method to cross-check personal statement of the witnesses and the accused.