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Probing Banani rape

Cops` role questioned

Safat’s statements in focus

 Safat’s statements in focus
photo by NN Photo

Customs and Intelligence officials raided five sale centers of Apan Jewellers in city. The photo was taken from Mouchak Market on Sunday.

By Special Correspondent
15th-May-2017       
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The sensational Banani rape case is now getting multi-dimensions with simultaneous inquiries by all state-run investigation agencies to detect Apan Jwellers' illicit money transactions and the attempt to suppress the rape incident by local police through an underhand dealing.  
Apan Jwellers is owned by Dildar Ahmed, the father of prime accused Safat Ahmed.
The investigating authorities have also launched inquiry against the three-star Raintree Hotel, where two private university students were allegedly gang raped, to unearth the illicit money transaction and tax dodging by its owners.
"Investigation is also going on against the Rain tree Hotel authority and the Officer-in Charge of Banani Police Station. Stringent action will be taken, if they are found involved in the rape incident. The investigators are looking whether there was any negligence of the OC," Home Minister Asaduzzamn Khan Kamal recently said.
There is widespread allegation that Banani OC, who is now on leave at the directives of top brasses, was offered Tk 25 lakh in cash to suppress the rape incident. He had shown negative approach to the victims when they went to the police station for filing the case.
Apan, the country's top jwellery brand, which was a small business only three decades ago, now turns into a billion-taka empire allegedly based on the money-flow that mainly      came from smuggled gold and diamonds, officials concerned told The New Nation. The Bangladesh Financial Intelligence Unit [BFIU] of Bangladesh Bank has directed all commercial banks to send statements of bank accounts and other monetary transactions done by Dilar Ahmed and Safat Ahmed.
 "The intelligence officials of central bank are working on Apan Jewelers' financial transactions for the last couple of days. As part of the ongoing investigation, we've asked the banks to send statements of the duo [Dilar Ahmed and Safat Ahmed]. Our focus is on whether they were involved in smuggling," Operational Head of BFIU and BB's General Manager Devprashad Devnath said on Sunday.
 "Not only that, we're also investigating whether there was any incident of money laundering through usages of the banking channels," he said. Earlier on May 11, the Customs Intelligence and Investigation Directorate [CIID] in a letter to the BB requested to send all related financial statements of Safat Ahmed and Dildar Ahmed. On the same day, the Police Department also sent letter to the central bank making the same request.   
Against this backdrop, the CIID conducted raids in five showrooms of Apan Jewellers in search of 'dirty money' yesterday. The CIID sealed its outlet housed at Subastu Tower in the city's Gulshan as it was not opened despite directives of the authorities concerned.
The CIID officials with the help of Rapid Action Battalion and police launched the drives in the showrooms located at Gulshan, Uttara, Mouchak and Shimanta Square to enquire about the legal source of gold and diamond and the tax paid on those.
The Central Intelligence Cell of National Board of Revenue was also asked to launch an investigation against Dildar Ahmed and Safat Ahmed to detect their tax dodging.  
The Department of Narcotics Control [DNC] has also started a full-fledged investigation into the incident whether the culprits had used intoxicating drugs. The DNC, however, could not recover any narcotic items from the Raintree Hotel on Saturday.
Interestingly, the CIID team on Sunday recovered 10 bottles of foreign liquor and some other illegal items from the spot. General Manager of Raintree Hotel Frank Forget told the media that they had no license to run bar in the hotel.
Director General of CIID Dr Moinul Khan said: "We've conducted operation at Raintree Hotel and recovered 10 bottles of foreign liquor in a room. Action will be taken against the hotel authority for storing illegal items. "
Safat, who is now undergoing interrogation by the detectives, already admitted that he had made physical relations with the victims with their permission at the Banani hotel.
A source close to the interrogation team said Safat claimed that the physical relations with the victims were not done by applying force. In favour of his claim, Safat showed the detectives some selfies with the victims which were taken through the cellular phones. Safat also disclosed the names of a dozen girl friends, including some models, with whom he kept close relations.
To check the claim, the police called Shahriar, a friend of the victims who was present at the hotel on that night, and interrogated him making a face-to-face sitting arrangement with Safat. Shahriar told the police that he was accompanied by a girlfriend at that time, who was luckily saved from the harassment where another accused Nayeem Ashraf was more aggressive. Safat and his friends severely beat Shahriar at gun point.
During the interrogation, Safat admitted to the police about physical torture on Shahriar. Joint Commissioner of Detective Branch Md Abdul Baten, who is leading a four-member inquiry-supporting team, said none of the two [Safat and Shahriar] have admitted about the video that was allegedly captured by Safat's driver Billal.
The detective official said they can call anybody for interrogation for the sake of proper investigation. The police are attaching 'importance' to the confessional statements of Safat, he added.  
Police said three other accused in the rape case will be arrested anytime as they are now under law enforcers' watch, while different law enforcement agencies, including the Rapid Action Battalion, started 'shadow' investigation into it alongside thana police.
Of the accused, Safat Ahmed and one of his accomplices-Sadman Shafiq, 24, were arrested in Sylhet on May 11  while Nayem Ashraf, 30, Safat's driver Billal, 26, and his unnamed bodyguard remain absconding.

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