Case verdict against Bangladeshi MP Shahid Islam alias Kazi Papul over human-trafficking and money-laundering charges in Kuwait has set Jan 28, 2021 for the delivery of the verdict. Judge Abdullah Al-Osman set the verdict date on Thursday after hearing the defence’s closing argument, according to local newspaper Al-Qabas.
After the court opened the trial on Sept 17, Shahid appealed for bail. But the judge instead sent him to jail, setting Oct 1 to resume hearing. The court’s proceedings were delayed later after the death of Kuwait’s ruling Emir Sheikh Sabah al-Ahmad al-Sabah on Sept 29.
Two Kuwaiti MPs, Saadoun Hammad and Salah Khorshid, are Shahid’s co-accused in the trial. They are charged with taking bribe from Shahid.
Major General Mazen Sheikh Mazem Al Jarrah, assistant under-secretary of the interior ministry in Kuwait, is also among the accused. Shahid, the MP of Lakshmipur-2 seat, was arrested in Kuwait on Jun 6.
Besides human trafficking and money laundering, the Kuwaiti prosecutors charged Shahid with torturing employees of his company, based on the complaints from five Bangladeshi nationals subjected to trafficking. The incident stirred a political furore in Kuwait.
Worker recruiter Shahid, who runs the Marafie Kuwaitia Group as managing director and CEO, resides in Kuwait in line with the country’s Aliens Residence Law. The Bangladesh MP confessed to bribing Kuwait officials and his statement has been published in the media.
The two Kuwaiti MPs named there were charged for assisting Shahid in his illegal acts and also for money laundering. At least 13 people were accused in the case but four were exempted following investigations.
Among the accused, six including MP Shahid are in prison while the two Kuwaiti MPs are out on bail. One of the accused in the case is absconding. Having travelled to Kuwait as a migrant worker, Shahid now owns a business empire there. He also has a sizable number of shares of NRB Commercial Bank, founded by expatriate Bangladeshi entrepreneurs.
His company Marafie Kuwaitia used to recruit cleaners but later he started other businesses in Kuwait. Shahid had a licence called ‘general trading and contracting’ which enabled him to run a business of many products ranging from children’s toys to antique carpet.
Shahid won the Laxmipur-2 seat in the 2018 election as an independent candidate. He also launched a successful bid to bring his wife Salina Islam to parliament as a reserved-seat MP. Kuwait authorities have frozen his bank accounts. Bangladesh is also investigating him and his wife.