Police seek to reintroduce bar fetters to restrain 'dangerous criminals' after militants' escape

They call for additional security measures, including the use of separate prison vans, to prevent prisoners from escaping

Court Correspondentbdnews24.com
Published : 22 Nov 2022, 12:24 PM
Updated : 22 Nov 2022, 12:24 PM

Police have called on prison authorities to step up security measures to negate the risk of suspects or convicts in high-profile cases from escaping while being escorted to court.

In the wake of two condemned militants' daring escape from a crowded court building in the capital, Dhaka Metropolitan Police sought to reintroduce bar fetters to restrain dangerous criminals.

A letter calling for additional steps to deal with terrorists, militants and convicts in multiple cases, including the use of bar fetters and separate prison vans, has been sent to the Department of Prisons, he added.

"As key prisoners were not kept in bar fetters when they were produced before courts, there have been cases where some convicts managed to escape. These undesirable incidents could have been avoided if their movements had been restricted by bar fetters," Deputy Commissioner Jashim Uddin of the DMP's prosecution wing said on Tuesday.

On Nov 20, Moinul Hasan Shamim alias Samir and Abu Siddique Sohel alias Shakib were snatched from police custody by their associates while they were being taken back to a lockup after testifying in court.

Shamim and Sohel, both leaders of the outlawed militant outfit Ansar-al-Islam, were sentenced to death over their involvement in the killings of writer-blogger Avijit Roy and publisher Faysal Arefin Dipan.

Witnesses said the militants sprayed some chemicals in the eyes of the policemen escorting the convicts before escaping.

Police later formed two committees to investigate the incident while announcing a Tk 2 million reward for information leading to the capture of the runaway convicts. A red alert was also issued across the country.

The incident alarmed security experts, with former IGP AKM Shahidul Haque blaming neglect of duty and unprofessionalism on the police's part for the prisoners' escape. Home Minister Asaduzzaman Khan also did not rule out the possibility of negligence by the police.

Much of the talk also surrounded the absence of bar fetters to restrain the convicts when they were taken to the court. Bar fetters consist of iron rings locked around the ankles of prisoners.

Addressing the matter, Gazipur Metropolitan Police Commissioner Mollah Nazrul AIG Sheikh Sujaur Rahman of the prisons department said the shackles were not imposed in light of a court order barring their use.

In 2017, the High Court summoned the DIG of the prisons department after a photo of four militants being escorted to court in bar fetters began circulating in the media. Later, the High Court issued an order banning the use of bar fetters on the court premises. However, shackles can be put on prisoners when they are brought from the prison to the court.

Asked about the DMP's letter, Col Sujaur said the prisons department will take action in accordance with the instructions.

"In 2017, a directive barred prisoners from being produced before courts in bar fetters. But they could be used on the way from the prison to the court premises. The responsibility for prisoners' security falls on the police from the prison gate onwards. Now, we will ask the police to put bar fetters on prisoners at the gate,” he said.

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