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Bangladesh 22 March 2007

Police accused of disguising journalist’s murder as suicide

(JPEG) Reporters Without Borders voiced concern today about the preliminary findings of the autopsy and police investigation into the death of Jamal Uddin, a reporter for the news agency Abas and local newspaper Dainik Giri Darpan, in the southeastern district of Rangamati. The authorities are saying it was suicide, but Uddin’s colleagues insist that the circumstances suggest it was murder.

"We call on the government to order the national criminal police to conduct a new investigation into this young journalist’s death," Reporters Without Borders said. "His fellow journalists dispute the official version and this is a source of disquiet that should be dispelled as quickly as possible. If it is confirmed that he was murdered, those responsible must be identified, arrested and tried."

The results of the Rangamati hospital autopsy, concluding that Uddin probably took his own life, were not released until 18 March, 12 days after his body was found. At the same time, the local police claimed they found an audio cassette message in his pocket in which he indicated he was killing himself because his fellow journalists made fun of him. However, the police have refused to let his relatives and friends listen to the message, and they have reportedly arrested a suspect.

Uddin’s relatives and colleagues rule out suicide. S. M. Shamsul Alam, the president of the Rangamati press club, said any reasonable person who had seen the body would know it was murder. The body, found stretched out at the foot of a tree with a rope around the neck, was covered with the marks of blows. Furthermore, Uddin, who was 25, had shown no signs of depression or suicidal tendencies.


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