Italian aid worker Cesare Tavella was murdered by professional killers as part of a conspiracy to create anarchy, put pressure on the government and send a message to foreigners that they are not safe in Bangladesh, police claimed yesterday.
A so-called “big brother” hired the killers in exchange for an amount of money to kill any of the “whites” living in Bangladesh.
Dhaka Metropolitan Police Commissioner Asaduzzaman Mia came up with the claims at a press conference at DMP Media Centre, twenty seven days after the killing of Tavella in the capital’s high-security diplomatic zone on September 28.
The DMP boss said police have arrested four youths, including the three who directly took part in the shooting, from Badda and Gulshan areas on Sunday.
Of the arrestees, Tamjid Ahmed alias Rubel alias Shooter Rubel, Russell Chowdhury alias Chakki Russell and Minhazul Arifin Russell alias Bhagne Russell carried out the killing mission.
The fourth arrestee, Shakhawat Hossian alias Sharif, provided his motorcycle on which the trio arrived at the spot and fled away after the shooting.
“Their target was not Tavella. Their target was any of the whites living in Bangladesh,” said the DMP chief.
Police, however, did not disclose the name of the so-called “big brother” and how much money he paid to the killers.
“We have information about the so-called big brother. After his arrest, it will be know who are backing him,” he said.
Detective sources, however, claimed the “big brother” is a mid or lower-mid level leader of BNP.
The DMP commissioner told the press that the three youths, who directly took part in the killing, are giving different accounts about the amount of the contract money.
The “big brother” paid half of the contract money before the murder and was supposed to pay the other half after the mission was accomplished. The killers did not get the rest of the amount, he added.
Police have seized the motorcycle but could not recover the firearms using in the shooting.
Later in the day, Rubel confessed to a magistrate that he shot four bullets at Tavella, a project manager of a Netherlands based NGO. He also confessed that along with him Russell Chowdhury alias Chakki Russell and Arifin came to the spot on a motorcycle and fled away.
Rubel told the magistrate that their motive was to create panic in the country particularly in the diplomatic area. He however said Chakki Russell and Arifin know the objective behind creating the panic, court sources said.
Metropolitan Magistrate Shahriar Mahmud Adnan recorded the statement for around three hours at his office.
The court then ordered sending him to jail.
Another Dhaka court placed three others — Chakki Russell, Arefin and Sharif– on eight-day remand each.
The detainees said nothing during the time of remand hearing. No lawyer stood for them either.
Although police claimed they picked up the four on Sunday, family members of three detainees alleged that police in plainclothes picked them up much earlier. They alleged police were trying to implicate them in the foreigner killing as they were involved in BNP politics.
HOW THEY KILLED TAVELLA
According to the DMP boss as part of their plan to kill a foreigner as mentioned , Russell Chowdhury took position in front of the regional city corporation office on the east side of Road 90.
The two others took Russell on their motorcycle and followed Tavella when they saw the Italian walking.
They followed up to the end of the Road No 90, crossed him and then took a u-turn.
Getting down form the motorcycle, Rubel shot him. When Tavella, being hit by bullets, collapsed on the ground, they ran to the motorcycle and sped away.
Regarding Site Intelligence Group’s report that the Islamic State’s claimed responsibility for the murder, the commissioner said police are yet to find even the slightest militant link.
“Our evidence and investigation suggested that it (the claim of IS) was not authentic. The IS drama has been staged to hide the real killers,” the commissioner said.
In the briefing, the DMP commissioner said they have arrested the “real culprits” though CCTV camera footage, technological analysis and collected adequate evidence to prove the allegations.
He added there is no link between Tavella killing and killing of assistant sub-inspector Ibrahim Mollah or blast in Hossaini Dalan.
Replying to a query about the comments of political leaders about the murder, the commissioner said the comments could not influence their investigation.
“It is normal that political leaders will speak politically. ….. We, as a professional force, have been carrying the investigation on basis of information and evidences,” he said.
Following the murder, some leader of ruling alliance claimed that the killing was a conspiracy of BNP-Jamaat to destabilize the country which outright rejected by the two parties.
According to detectives, Russell and Arifin were drug addict and served jails in different cases. Rubel was a notorious and cool-headed murderer while Sharif was a drug trader and arms lender.
CLAIMS OF FAMILIES
Selina Aktar, mother of Russell, said her son was picked up on October 12 evening by plainclothes detectives in front of their Madhya Badda house and a local boy informed her about it. Russell had been missing since then, she said.
The family went to the office of Detective Branch of Police on Minto Road a couple of times but failed to know his whereabouts but DB men denied nabbing Russell, she added.
Later on October 16, they filed a general diary with Badda Police Station.
Sharif was picked by some persons, who identified them as detectives, from his Madhya Badda house around 3:30am on October 15, alleged his elder brother Sohag. They also took away a motorbike from the house that Sharif bought two years ago.
The family members went to the DB office and local police station on several occasions but could not know his whereabouts, Shohag added.
“It was a great relief to see him. We thought we will never trace him,” Shohag said, adding whether his brother was guilty or not will be proved later.
Nahar Begum, a tenant at the house of another detainee Russell Chowdhury, said four to five men entered their Shimultoli house at Dakkhin Badda around 10:30am on October 10, saying they would check the water supply line.
The men later identified them as detectives and picked him up, Nahar added.
Several locals at Shimultoli said most of the time Russell would hang out with friends at a tea stall in front of his house
Russell’s sister Subarna Chowdhury alleged that her brother was being framed by police.
Source: The Daily Star