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Bangladesh 14 March 2006

Police arrest prime suspect in Gautam Das murder

Reporters Without Borders notes that Asif Imran, 42, the prime suspect in the 17 November 2005 murder of Gautam Das, a correspondent with the national daily Dainik Shamokal, was arrested by the Kotwali police on 8 March and is currently being held in Faridpur, west of Dhaka. The victim’s family said it hoped Imran would now be brought to trial.


A young journalist murdered in Faridpur

Reporters Without Borders said it was devastated by the barbaric murder of Gautam Das, correspondent for national newspaper Dainik Shamokal in Faridpur, west of the capital Dhaka.

Das, aged 28, was found dead at his office in Faridpur on 17 November 2005. First reports from the murder scene said that his arms and legs had been broken and that his neck bore the marks of blows. A post mortem has been held but the results have not yet been made public.

“The impunity that exists in Bangladesh encourages criminals to continue to strike at journalists who expose their misdeeds. We are revolted by the murder of this young journalist, who knew his life was at risk, but continued despite this to do his job,” said the worldwide press freedom organisation.

Reporters Without Borders called on the authorities, in particular the police, to carry out an exhaustive and impartial investigation.

Das, a former correspondent on the daily Prothom Alo, specialised in investigations into illegal activities and abuse of power on the part of certain public figures in Faridpur. He had recently written articles about drug-trafficking in the region.

His newspaper, which was recently launched at national level, was already respected for its uncompromising investigations in one of the world’s most corrupt countries.

Das, who came from a poor family, was highly respected by his colleagues. A Reporters Without Borders representative met him recently to discuss the problems facing journalists in the Faridpur region.

He is the second journalist to be murdered in Bangladesh in 2005. Nine journalists have been murdered in the country because of their work since 2001.

Even though this was the first murder of a journalist in Faridpur in the past ten years, several correspondents have survived murder attempts. In 2001, Prabir Shikder, former correspondent for the daily Janakantha, had to have a leg amputated after being attacked in a Faridpur street. In a report, Reporters Without Borders highlighted the fact that police had never carried out an impartial investigation. Since that date, Shikder has been forced to go into hiding in Dhaka after receiving a number of new threats.

Shikder told Reporters Without Borders that it was more than likely that his friend and colleague, Das, had been murdered because of what he wrote.

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