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Dhaka Tribune

ACC to investigate Additional Secretary Jebunnesa's assets when allegations filed

ACC Commissioner Zahirul Haque says the anti-graft watchdog will take action after receiving specific information on whether Jebunnesa's assets were amassed illegally

Update : 20 May 2021, 09:05 PM

The Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) has said it will look into the wealth of Kazi Jebunnesa Begum, an additional secretary at the Health Services Division under the Health Ministry, after specific allegations are filed on the issue.

The name of the ministry official came to the fore after she allegedly physically assaulted Prothom Alo journalist Rozina Islam at the secretariat on May 17.

The Health Ministry has also formed a three-member committee to look into the whole incident.

However, Kazi Jebunnesa has claimed she was not involved in the harassment of the journalist.

While talking to reporters at the ACC headquarters in Dhaka on Thursday, Commissioner Zahirul Haque said if the commission came by specific allegations against Kazi Jebunnesa over illegal amassing of wealth on her part, the anti-graft watchdog would take action in this regard.

Also Read - Decision on journalist Rozina Islam's bail plea Sunday

According to media reports, Rozina Islam, known for her investigative journalism, was tortured and harassed by Jebunnesa Begum while the journalist was collecting news at the secretariat on May 17. 

Islam was detained at the secretariat for over five hours before being handed over to the police.

An FIR (first investigation report) was filed against her under the Official Secrets Act and Sections 379 and 411 of The Penal Code on a complaint filed by the Health Services Division at Shahbagh police station before the case was officially recorded. Islam allegedly took photos of documents related to government negotiations with pharma companies to buy Covid-19 vaccines.

According to a complaint filed by the ministry, an on-duty police member saw Rozina Islam in the room of the secretary’s PS around 2:55pm and later other officials including Kazi Jebunnesa and the secretary’s PS came and questioned Rozina Islam about her motive.

At one point, the additional secretary searched her body and found some files, and saw photos of some documents on her mobile phone. 

Also Read - ‘Official Secrets Act does not provide for punishment of journalists’

Later Shahbagh police took her in their custody led by an additional police commissioner posted at the secretariat.

On May 18, a Dhaka court sent the journalist to jail after rejecting a plea for her remand made by the police. She was then taken to Kashimpur Central Women's Jail in Gazipur.

Her harassment at the ministry and subsequent arrest have sparked protests by journalists and rights organizations across the country and abroad.

Meanwhile, a Dhaka court on Thursday fixed Sunday for it to deliver its decision on the bail plea filed by the journalist in the case.

Earlier on Wednesday, the case was transferred to the Detective Branch of police.

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