Monday, June 24, 2024

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বাংলা
Dhaka Tribune

Gen Aziz claims innocence, terms US sanction very unfortunate

'I am surprised, didn't do anything to be punished'

Update : 21 May 2024, 04:48 PM

Former Bangladesh Army chief General (retd) Aziz Ahmed has claimed innocence against the US sanctions for alleged involvement in corruption.

Expressing surprise at this, he said: "I have not committed any crime that should be punished."

He made the statement in an interview with satellite channel Ekattor TV on Tuesday afternoon.

Gen Aziz said if the US state department can prove the information that his brothers or any of his close relatives have received contract from Border Guard Bangladesh (BGB) or Bangladesh Army while he was in charge, then he will accept all their allegations.

Claiming that the sanction was imposed based on false information, the ex-army chief said: “It is very unfortunate.”

However, he said that he will not pursue any legal or other process against this sanction.

The US Department of State on Monday announced the public designation of General Aziz Ahmed, previously chief of the Bangladesh Army Staff, due to what it says was his involvement in "significant corruption".

This action renders Aziz and his immediate family members generally ineligible for entering the United States.

Meanwhile, Foreign Minister Dr Hasan Mahmud said the US informed the Bangladesh Embassy in Washington DC about the sanctions imposed on former army chief General (retd) Aziz Ahmed before making it public.

He said General Aziz was not sanctioned under the US-announced visa policy but rather was under Section 7031(c) of the annual Department of State, Foreign Operations, and Related Programs Appropriations Act.

In a written statement, the US Department of State said: "Aziz Ahmed engaged in significant corruption by interfering in public processes while helping his brother evade accountability for criminal activity in Bangladesh."

Aziz also worked closely with his brother to ensure the improper awarding of military contracts and accepted bribes in exchange for government appointments for his personal benefit, it claimed.

"This designation reaffirms the US commitment to strengthening democratic institutions and the rule of law in Bangladesh," said the US government.

Meanwhile, on Deutsche Welle’s “Khaled Mohiuddin Jante Chay" streamed on YouTube on December 24, 2021, in response to the interviewer’s question if the US had revoked his visa, General Aziz dismissed media reports making the claim. 

He went on to mention US laws that stipulated that the country’s relevant authorities “shall” notify the person whose visa they were revoking. 

Responding to Khaled Mohiuddin’s question if he had a valid US visa, General Aziz said: “As far as I am concerned, yes.”

The interview questions were mostly on Gen Aziz’s alleged links to corruption, as mentioned in a documentary, titled "All the Prime Minister's Men", by Al-Jazeera.

The documentary was aired on February 1, 2021, when Gen Aziz was the sitting chief of army staff. The Bangladesh Army also rejected the report, terming it false and fabricated.

On February 17, the High Court ordered the government to remove the documentary from all online and communication media. The order came following a hearing on a writ petition. Gen Aziz went on to retire on June 24 of the same year.

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