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Dhaka Tribune

A ‘big brother’ paid for Tavella murder

Update : 26 Oct 2015, 07:37 PM

The four people arrested for the murder of Cesare Tavella have told investigators during interrogation that a “big brother” had paid them to kill the Italian national.

According to a source among the investigators, they had primarily learned during interrogation that the “big brother” – the alleged mastermind – is a leader of a major political party and is now abroad.

The four arrested in connection with Tavella murder are: Tamjid Ahmed Rubel alias Mobile Rubel alias Shooter Rubel; Md Rasel Chowdhury alias Chakki Rasel; Minhajul Arifeen Rasel alias Bhagne Rasel alias Kala Rasel; and Md Shakhawat Hossain alias Sharif.

Sharif was not directly involved in the mission; the alleged killers used his bike for killing Tavella.

The Detective Branch (DB) of Dhaka Metropolitan Police (DMP) brought the four in front of the media yesterday at the Media and Community Centre in Dhaka.

The DB said they had all been arrested Sunday night based on evidence found in closed-circuit television (CCTV) camera footage. Chakki Rasel was arrested at Gulshan, Bhagne Rasel at Badda Satarkul and Rubel and Shakhawat at Madhya Badda.

However, their families have claimed that they had been picked up 10-15 days ago.

Asked who the “big brother” was and how much money had been transacted for the killing of Tavella, DMP Commissioner Asaduzzaman Miah told reporters yesterday that they had been getting a lot of information from the arrestees and hence could not explain everything right away.

“I cannot tell you everything right now as a high official of a professional force. But people know very clearly who want to take advantage by creating unrest in the country,” the Dhaka police chief said.

“We are trying to find out whether those, who in the name of demonstration and blockade carried out sabotage and killed people by setting buses on fire, are involved in Tavella murder. Once we have proper evidence, we will disclose everything,” he added.

However, according to an investigation source, the alleged mastermind is MA Kaiyum, the joint convener of main political opposition BNP’s Dhaka city unit, who is now in London.

According to the source, investigators believe that Kaiyum instructed his younger brother MA Matin, who is in Dhaka, to cut the deal with the killers against a payment.

When contacted, Matin’s wife Dilruba yesterday alleged that plainclothes men had picked up her husband on Tuesday and she had not heard from him since.

“On Tuesday, when he was returning from work in the evening some plainclothes men picked him up from in front of our Maddya Badda residence. Witnesses said they came in a white microbus,” Dilruba said.

Asked how she was so sure that they were policemen, Dilruba said: “When they were taking my husband away, local people stopped them. Then the plainclothes men identified themselves as DB men. The DB officials also said that they would release him [Matin] after routine interrogation.”

Local police did not give them any information, Dilruba said, adding that they later came to know that Matin is now in DB police’s office.

The killing mission

DMP chief Asaduzzaman told reporters yesterday that Chakki Rasel had rented the motorbike from Sharif on September 28 morning – the day of the murder.

According to an investigation source, Chakki Rasel went to Gulshan Road 90 in the evening and waited in front of the city corporation office. Later, Shooter Rubel and Bhagne Rasel arrived on the motorbike.

According to the DMP chief, they were waiting for a white man. Tavella entered the road around 6pm and the killers started following him. When they reached the end of the road, Rubel came down from the bike and Bhagne Rasel kept waiting on Road 83 with the bike.

The source said that right after Tavella reached in front of the Bangladesh Bank governor’s house, Rubel shot him. Wasting no time, Rubel got on the motorbike and he and Bhagne Rasel fled. Chakki Rasel, who was waiting on Road 90, also left the spot first on foot and then by a rickshaw.

The gun used for killing Tavella and the motorbike were seized from the possession of Chakki Rasel and Sharif respectively.

Time of arrest

Although the DMP chief said that the four were arrested on Sunday night, their families said they had been picked up 10-15 days ago.

“Rubel had been traceless since October 12. His mobile phone was switched off. We contacted the police and the DB but they could not give any answer. Then we filed a general diary [GD] with the Badda police station,” said Rubel’s uncle Mainuddin Ahmed Towhid.

“We finally came to know where Rubel was yesterday afternoon when television channels showed news of his arrest,” the uncle said.

When contacted, Afroza Begum, mother of Chakki Rasel, said: “Some plainclothes men had picked him up from their house on October 10. The official said he was from Minto Road and his name was Inspector Zeahad Hossain.”

The inspector gave Afroza a phone number for contacting if needed.

Dhaka Tribune dialled the number and Inspector Zeahad Hossain received the call, confirming it was his official number.

Inspector Zeahad is investigating the Tavella murder case.

Afroza also said that they had contacted the DB later but did not get any information.

Fatema Zohra Nilu, sister-in-law of Sharif, also gave a similar account of how her brother-in-law had been picked up from their house by plainclothes men on October 15 and how the DB did not give them any information.

Asked about the families’ claims, DMP boss Asaduzzaman said: “Due to police’s vigilance, the killers went into hiding and did not contact their families. They might have misunderstood the situation and filed the GDs. But we have nothing to say about this. We only arrested them last night [Sunday].”

He also said that Chakki Rasel and Bhagne Rasel had been arrested before on different charges and Sharif is locally known as a drug and arms dealer.

IS involvement

The commissioner yesterday once again reiterated police’s stance that Islamic State (IS) – the international terrorist organisation – does not have any involvement with the murder.

“We have carried out extensive digital investigation to verify the IS claim. A website named Site Intelligence [Group] has given the information of IS’ involvement … We sent an e-mail to Site Intelligence’s co-founder Rita Kartz but she has not responded.”

However, in a recent tweet, Rita Katz said that Bangladesh police never contacted her.

Remand and confession

A Dhaka court yesterday placed three of the four suspected accused on eight-day remand, after they were produced in court by investigating officer Inspector Md Zeahad Hossain. Metropolitan Magistrate Muhammad Mahbubur Rahman passed the order. The remanded accused are: Chakki Rasel, 34; Bhagne Rasel, 35, and Sharif, 42. The other accused, Rubel, yesterday made a statement before the magistrate confessing his involvement in the murder. 

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