The magistrate court of Mishref, Kuwait on Wednesday denied a bail plea of Bangladeshi independent lawmaker Md Shahid Islam for a third time – over his alleged involvement in human trafficking and money laundering.
The court also set a date for the next hearing two weeks from now. Shahid, who is widely known as Kazi Papul, has been detained in a Kuwaiti prison for the last four days.
Meanwhile, Bangladesh Ambassador to Kuwait SM Abul Kalam said the Embassy of Bangladesh in Kuwait will not interfere with the investigation carried out by the Kuwaiti authorities against MP Papul.
The ambassador told The Business Standard on Wednesday, "The embassy will not provide any support to the arrested man [MP Papul] until his charges have been determined by the Kuwaiti authorities. MP Papul has not yet contacted the embassy.
"Bangladesh is yet to discuss the issue with Khaled Al-Jarallah, undersecretary of Kuwait's Ministry of Foreign Affairs," he added.
The daily Alrai recently reported that the Kuwaiti Public Prosecution has ordered the continued detention of Bangladeshi lawmaker Papul, pending further investigation. He has been charged with human trafficking, money laundering and bringing thousands of menial workers to Kuwait in collaboration with his Kuwaiti partner.
In the meantime, the accused told the public prosecution that he has been working in Kuwait for 10 years and has a valid residence permit.
MP Papul also said he is a partner at one of the cleaning companies that he established in partnership with a Kuwaiti, where he works as a general manager. He claimed he had been providing work to the Bangladeshi community in Kuwait and denied he had taken money from anyone.
The Bangladeshi lawmaker added that he has been helping his countrymen earn a living, reported the daily Alrai.
Wishing not to be named, a senior assistant secretary from the embassy said, "MP Papul's lawyer submitted a bail plea for his client three days in a row. However, the court denied his bail pleas and set a date in two weeks for a further hearing."
"In that period, he will remain in prison and investigators will continue their interrogation," he added.
Mukhai Ali, president of Bangladesh Business Community in Kuwait, said, "Seven Bangladeshis testified in front of the public prosecution that each of them paid 2,500 dinars for the accused [MP Papul] to bring them to Kuwait to work as drivers for his company."
"However, when they arrived in the country, they did not find any jobs. Instead, they were asked to find jobs by themselves. They also said when the time for the renewal of their residence permits came, MP Papul demanded more money. He has denied those allegations," Mukhai explained.
He added that following the confessions of the seven Bangladeshis, the suspect was arrested at his home in Mishref and taken away for interrogation.
Additionally, the Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) in Bangladesh, on Wednesday, served notices to MP Papul, lawmaker Selina Islam – his wife – and two other family members to provide documents.
The matter was confirmed by the commission's Director Syed Iqbal Hossain.
ACC Deputy Director M Salahuddin served the notices to the lawmaker couple, their daughter Kazi Wafa Islam, and Selina's sister Jemin Akter – asking them to submit copies of their passports, National Identity Cards, TINs, and income tax returns within the next 15 days.
On February 26, the ACC initiated an inquiry against Shahid Islam – also NRB Commercial Bank Ltd director – over his alleged involvement in illegally amassing wealth through money laundering.
The inquiry against the Kuwait-based businessman was initiated after a 174-page complaint was filed with the commission, said ACC Director for Public Relations Pranab Kumar Bhattacharya.