Ex-Bangladesh envoy fears ‘trumped-up charges’ to force him home

A former Bangladeshi high commissioner to Malaysia who has remained in the country as a refugee, says a corruption case has been brought against him in Dhaka as a means to force his extradition.

The former diplomat, Mohamed Khairuzzaman, said he was facing “trumped-up” allegations. He said the Bangladesh Anti-Corruption Commission claims he had accumulated 15 million Bangladeshi taka (RM730,000) illegally while serving in Malaysia from 2007 to 2009.

Khairuzzaman claimed the authorities in Bangladesh would probably find him guilty in absentia to try to get him extradited.

“The current regime’s idea is to get me back there and then do what they want as the world will not be watching,” he said. “Once this happens, my life will be in danger again. I fear that I would be a victim of enforced disappearance that happens to political rivals in Bangladesh frequently.”

Khairuzzaman was arrested by Malaysian immigration in February on the grounds that he had no valid documents, although he showed proof that he is recognised as a refugee by the UN refugee agency. He was released a week later after international pressure and a habeas corpus application.

The habeas corpus case fixed to be heard in May, and the judge has warned the authorities against deporting him before that. However, the lawyers subsequently withdrew the case upon his unconditional release.

Khairuzzaman said he is appealing to the Malaysian and foreign governments, international human rights organisations and local and global law enforcement agencies to take cognizance of Bangladesh’s another attempt to get him home by creating a false case.

According to Bangladesh news reports, the Bangladesh anti-corruption agency said an investigation had proved that Khairuzzaman had allegedly accumulated the wealth through misuse of power.

Kairuzzaman, a former Bangladesh army officer, was ordered home in 2009 after the Awami League took power. However, he continued to live in Malaysia as an UNHCR refugee after he claimed that his life would be in danger if he returned.

According to news reports, after the High Court acquitted him of the jail killing case in 2004, the government applied to the Supreme Court seven years later for a retrial.

However, the apex court rejected the appeal saying it could not find any reason for a retrial based on the High Court proceedings which saw 60 witnesses testifying. The government then, which is currently still in power, withdrew the appeal.