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Kuwait Court Denies Bail to Bangladesh MP Papul on Human Trafficking Charges

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A Kuwait court has rejected an appeal by Bangladesh MP Shahid Islam Papul and other defendants seeking their release in a human trafficking, case.

Other charges like money laundering and undermining national security has also been leveled against Papul and his associates in this case.2

After the first hearing of the case on Thursday night, Kuwait’s Criminal Court, headed by Counselor Abdullah Al-Othman, decided to summon the Kuwaiti officials involved and postpone the hearing until October 1, reported Kuwait’s Arabic newspaper Al Qabas.

Kuwait’s Criminal Investigation Department detained Shahid Islam Papul, an independent Member of the parliament from Laxmipur-2 constituency of  Noakhali of B’desh  and also the managing director and CEO of Marafie Kuwaitia Group, a conglomerate in Kuwait.

Papul has confessed to bribing Kuwaiti officials with millions of dollars for recruiting Bangladeshi workers and getting contracts for his company.

Meanwhile, nearly 10,000 Bangladeshi workers employed by the companies may lose jobs,said Bangladesh community Leaders of Kuwait .They said, Kuwait’s Central Agency for Public Tenders (CAPT) continues its refusal to extend contracts for the companies co-owned by Shahid Islam Papul.

Sources said Papul, who went to Kuwait nearly 30 years ago as a worker and later started business, earned a large amount illegal money.

Papul established several companies, mostly cleaning, and had contracts with Kuwaiti government agencies.

The court also decided to detain 3 other Bangladeshis accused, who were previously released from the prosecution.

The government agencies of Kuwait ,for which Papul’s company worked were, therefore, concerned as to how they would find alternative workers as a tendering process and hiring foreign workers required a lengthy process.

Thus, the government buildings may remain without cleaning workers.

Saadoun Hammad and Salah Khorshid -two Kuwaiti MPs, accused of taking bribes to facilitate Papul’s businesses, — did not attend the hearing. Papul told the court that he did not know those MPs Saadoun Hammad and Salah Khorshid, nor did he have any relationship with them.

At the hearing that began at 3:18pm Kuwait time, Papul said he also did not have any relationship with Sheikh Mazen al-Jarrah, Kuwait’s assistant under-secretary, accused of helping Papul in visa trading.

13 people were accused in the case but four were later exempted during the investigation.

Papul  was accused of charging each foreign worker, mostly from Bangladesh, up to 3,000 dinars in exchange for taking them to Kuwait. Many of the workers, however, alleged they were not provided with the jobs or wages that were promised. Much of the wages they got was also appropriated by Papul’s company.

Al Qabas reported that the Public Prosecution demanded maximum penalties for the accused in the case, confirming that it has strong evidence of the allegations made in the case.

Meanwhile, Bangladesh’s Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) opened an inquiry into the allegation that Papul amassed Tk 1,400 crore by trafficking people into Kuwait and laundered the money to different countries.

The ACC said the inquiry was to look into the charges of loan forgery and money laundering by the NRB Commercial Bank director Shahid Islam Papul, his wife Selina, their daughter Kazi Wafa Islam and Selina’s sister Jesmin.

On July 17, the ACC imposed a ban on the foreign travel by all of them saying that the embargo would be implemented for Papul after his return to the country. 

Papul had no involvement in politics back home before 2016.Local people said, Papul invested crores of taka to prevent other potential candidates in Laxmipur-2 constituency and became an independent MP in the 2018 elections. 

His wife Selina Islam also became an MP from women’s reserved seat in the same manner.

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