Dr Sabrina claims her innocence to the court
A Dhaka court has placed JKG Health Care Chairman Dr Sabrina Arif Chowdhury on a three-day remand in a case filed regarding a Covid-19 test scam.
Metropolitan Magistrate Md Shahinur Rahman gave the order when Tejgaon police station Inspector (operation) Hasnat Khandakar, the investigation officer in the case, produced her in court on Monday.
Police submitted a petition seeking a four-day remand to grill Dr Sabrina in their custody, while the defence counsel filed a bail petition and a remand rejection plea with the court.
The court, however, rejected both the petitions filed by the defence.
Law enforcement brought Dr Sabrina, also a cardiac surgeon at the National Institute of Cardiovascular Diseases (NICVD), to court around 11:15am. She was arrested on Sunday afternoon for her suspected involvement in the scam.
Dr Sabrina was initially summoned to the Dhaka Metropolitan Police (DMP) Tejgaon division deputy commissioner’s (DC) office and was later shown arrested in the case after a brief interrogation.
Meanwhile, the Health Ministry suspended the physician from the NICVD soon after her arrest.
In the official order on Sunday, Health Services Secretary Abdul Mannan said that she breached service rules by serving as a chairman in a private organization without permission.
Sabrina to court: I am not JKG’s chairman
According to court sources, Dr Sabrina, claiming herself to be innocent, told the court that she is not the chairman of JKG.
She claimed that she has nothing to do with the wrongdoings of JKG, and as it is a private company, she cannot be its chairman.
However, arresting Sabrina, DMP Tejgaon Division DC Harun-or-Rashid told the media that other suspects previously held for the scam, said Dr Sabrina is in fact the chairman of the organization.
Police: Sabrina’s contact number registered under patient’s name
According to police sources, Dr Sabrina, for a long time, has been using a mobile SIM registered to one of her patients.
Sabrina, however, claimed that someone else gave the SIM to her to use and she did not know that it was registered in someone else’s name, several media outlets reported.
Speaking to Dhaka Tribune, DMP’s Tejgaon police station OC Md Salauddin Mia, said: “We now have Sabrina on remand. We will interrogate her regarding the use of this SIM.”
A sleepless night for Sabrina in police custody
The sources also said that Dr Sabrina, during her stay at the Tejgaon police station, was awake all night and kept walking inside the jail premises.
Seeking anonymity, some police officials told Dhaka Tribune that she was taken to the Tejgaon police station around 5:30pm on Sunday.
She was first taken to a police officer’s room after arrival, and was later taken into custody.
Sabrina's relatives and her househelp were also at the police station and she ate the food provided by police that night, they added.
Earlier, on June 24, the Directorate General of Health Services (DGHS) cancelled all approvals it had given to JKG Health Care for the collection of Covid-19 samples.
The cancellation order was issued a day after police arrested three officials of JKG Health Care, including the organization's CEO Ariful Chowdhury, spouse of Dr Sabrina, for giving fake Covid-19 test reports to people who had provided samples at the health facility.
Dr Sabrina's name entered the discussion when it emerged that she is the chairman of the organization. She, however, denied holding the position, claiming she only provided consultancy.
Following Sabrina's arrest, DMP Tejgaon Division DC Harun-or-Rashid said people previously arrested, confirmed during interrogation that Dr Sabrina is the chairman of the facility.
"She is a government doctor, so we were taking time to collect concrete information on her before making the arrest," the DC said.
"Dr Sabrina denied her involvement with JKG Health Care in the brief interrogation, but she introduced herself as the chairman on her Facebook account. A government doctor cannot hold a post at an NGO [non-governmental organization] while in service, so we showed her as arrested.”
"JKG Health Care provided false certificates to many people, including expatriates who were barred from entering airports of other countries," he added.
At least four cases have been filed with Tejgaon police station against JKG Health Care, Md Salauddin Mia, OC of the police station, told Dhaka Tribune on Monday.
One of the case was filed over Covid-19 certificate forgery, another over vandalism in the police station committed by the followers of JKG CEO Ariful Chowdhury, who was arresred on June 23, for which 18 people were arrested, he added.
The other two cases were filed over fraud charges. the OC said.