After an around two-month trial period, the Kuwait court has set 28 January 2021 to deliver the verdict in a case against Bangladeshi lawmaker Kazi Shahid Islam Papul alias Kazi Papul over human trafficking, illegal visa trade, bribery and money laundering charges.
Judge Abdullah Al-Osman of the criminal court fixed the date after hearing the defence's closing argument on Thursday, reported local newspaper Al-Qabas.
Ataul Gani, general secretary of Kuwait chapter of Awami League, confirmed it on Friday to The Business Standard.
Two Kuwaiti lawmakers – Saadoun Hammad and Salah Khorshid – are also Kazi Papul's co-accused in the trial. They are charged with taking bribe from Papul.
Another Kuwaiti bureaucrat Major General Mazen Sheikh Mazem Al Jarrah, assistant under-secretary of the interior ministry, is also among the accused in the case.
After the court opened the trial on 17 September, Shahid appealed for bail. But the judge instead sent him to jail, setting 1 October for resuming the hearing.
The court's proceedings were delayed later after the death of Kuwait's ruling Emir Sheikh Sabah al-Ahmad al-Sabah on 29 September.
Kuwait's Criminal Investigation Department arrested Kazi Papul, an independent lawmaker from Lakshmipur-2 constituency, and also managing director and chief executive officer of Marafie Kuwaitia Group, on 6 June.
He was accused of charging each foreign worker, mostly from Bangladesh, up to 3,000 Kuwaiti dinars in exchange for taking them to Kuwait. Many of them, however, alleged they were not provided with the jobs and wages as promised.
Kazi Papul has confessed to bribing millions of dollars to Kuwaiti officials for recruiting Bangladeshi workers and getting contracts for his company.
Alongside human trafficking and money laundering, the Kuwaiti prosecutors charged Shahid with torturing employees of his company, based on the complaints from five Bangladeshi nationals subjected to trafficking. The incident stirred a political furore in Kuwait.
Thirteen people were accused in the case filed in Kuwait, including Major General Mazen Sheikh Mazem Al Jarrah, assistant under-secretary of the interior ministry of Kuwait.
Responding to a query, Bangladesh's Ambassador to Kuwait, Major Gen Md Ashikuzzaman, said they are yet to get any official confirmation regarding the arrest and trial of MP Papul.
"We have learned information about MP Papul's detention and trial from local media outlets," said Niaz Morshed, second secretary (political) of the embassy.
The Criminal Investigation Department (CID) of Police has made preparations to submit a charge-sheet against Papul, his younger brother, Kazi Mohammed Badrul Alam and their associates in a case filed over human trafficking to Kuwait.
Confirming the matter, CID's Senior Assistant Superintendent of Police, Jisanul Haque, told The Business Standard that they might file the charge-sheet within this month.
Apart from the Lakshmipur-2 independent lawmaker's reported involvement with human trafficking, the CID also found that his brother, Badrul Alam alias Liton Chowdhury was tied to the case after his name was mentioned in a confessional statement filed in Bangladesh.
Papul and Liton allegedly trafficked around 1,574 Bangladeshis to the oil-rich Gulf country through his recruiting agency, Job Bank International. Liton is currently absconding.
Papul was arrested in Kuwait on 6 June this year on charges of human trafficking and money laundering. Later, he not only confessed his involvement with the activities as mentioned above but also with illegal visa trading and bribing Kuwaiti officials, reported the country's media outlets.
In an interview with The Business Standard in the last week of September, Additional Inspector General of Police and Chief of CID, Barrister Md Mahbubur Rahman, said they are very close to submitting the charge sheet against the lawmaker over the human trafficking allegations.