Bangladeshi diplomat in US freed from jail

Dhaka,  Sat,  24 June 2017
Published : 14 Jun 2017, 09:46:12 | Updated : 14 Jun 2017, 12:30:16
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Bangladeshi diplomat in US freed from jail

A Bangladeshi diplomat, who was arrested following the allegation raised by his 'absconding' domestic helper, has been released from Vermon C Bain Correctional Centre, Bronx, New York.

Consul General in New York Md Shameem Ahsan said he received Deputy Consul General at Consulate General of Bangladesh in New York Md Shahedul Islam at 8:20 pm (Eastern Time) on Tuesday.

Md Shamim Hossain, first secretary, and Asib Ahmed, third secretary, accompanied Shameem, reports UNB.

This follows 'sincere effort' by the Embassy of Bangladesh in Washington DC and Consulate General in New York under the guidance of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Dhaka to release him at the earliest since the Officer was arrested on June 12 by the local authorities following the allegation by his former domestic aide. 

Shameem Ahsan confirmed the latest development on Wednesday morning.

The Foreign Affairs Ministry on Tuesday 'summoned' acting US Ambassador in Dhaka Joel Reifman and 'strongly protested' the detention of its diplomat in New York following the allegation raised by his 'absconding' domestic helper.

Acting Foreign Secretary Mahbub-Uz-Zaman 'summoned' the US envoy to his office, conveyed Bangladesh's displeasure to him and wanted to know about details of the matter, a senior Foreign Ministry official said.

Dhaka also sought steps to drop all the charges brought against Deputy Consul General in New York Md Shahedul Islam, now in Queens Criminal Court, and demanded his release, another diplomat said wishing to remain unquoted.

However, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs issued a media release at 12:37 am saying, "We have reasons to believe the arrest is a clear violation of the Vienna Convention on Consular Relations 1963. We have lodged a strong protest with the chargé d'affaires of the United States Embassy in Dhaka."

Bangladesh had earlier reported about the missing of the domestic helper who went missing about 13 months earlier (on May 17, 2016) from Islam's residence.

The incident was immediately reported to the Department of State by the Bangladesh Consulate General in New York and also by the Bangladesh Embassy in Washington D.C. on 18 and May 19, 2016 respectively.

However, the Foreign Ministry here said no update had been received on this matter from the Department of State before Islam's arrest.

The Bangladeshi diplomat has been indicted for allegedly forcing a servant to work for his family in New York City without pay and assaulting him though Bangladesh consulate senses other motive.

Prosecutors say Md Shahedul Islam, 45, was accused on Monday on grand larceny, assault, labour trafficking and other charges, reports the Associated Press (AP).

An indictment is merely an accusation and the defendant is presumed innocent until proven guilty. However, the defendant faces up to 15 years in prison in such case if convicted, according to a court copy.

However, Consul General at Consulate General of Bangladesh Shameem Ahsan said domestic aide Ruhul Amin went missing on May 17, 2016 and the Consulate General formally reported it to the US authorities on May 18 the same year.

"It's quite surprising that he has come up with so many allegations against his employer after about 13 months which suggests that he might have other motives in mind," Shameem said Tuesday.

He said he himself was present in the Court with his colleagues for hours yesterday and the judge left the Court shortly after the order (Bail subject to payment of cash US$25,000 or bond for US$50,000) and his (judge) presence was a requirement to secure his release on the same day.

Besides, Shameem said, finding two solvent guarantors (with salary statements showing legal income) in addition to generating required cash and processing (bond) papers needed some time despite sincere efforts on the part of the Bangladesh Embassy in Washington DC, Consulate General and relatives of the Officer.

"Bond paper is expected to be submitted today (Tuesday)," he added.

Quoting prosecutors, the AP said Shahedul brought the Bangladeshi domestic aide Amin, to New York in between 2012 and 2013 to work as household help, but 'took away his passport'.

Prosecutors also said Amin 'was not paid for his work, and threatened and beaten, sometimes with a wooden shoe. He escaped in 2016'.

Islam is due back in court June 28, the AP report says.

 
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