Odhikar’s Adilur interrogated over EU fund

Staff Correspondent

The Anti-Corruption Commission on Wednesday interrogated rights organisation Odhikar secretary Adilur Rahman Khan over an allegation of ‘money laundering’ relating to EU-sponsored fund in an awareness building project.
Commission’s deputy director Jalal Uddin Ahmed interrogated Adilur in a chamber at the commission headquarters for about 20 minutes.
Jalal told New Age that a fund of €97,000 was transferred to Odhikar and ‘we are inquiring into the sources of the fund and how it was spent and on what purposes.’
The inquiry officer also said that the inquiry was initiated in 2013 and ‘I am appointed recently.’
Adilur said that the allegation brought against Odhikar was ‘completely baseless’ and he showed all necessary documents including the approval from the government and the grant contract signed between Odhikar and European Union on December 6, 2010.
He said that there was no lack of transparency in connection with the fund of €97,501.07 in the project implemented in 2012-14.
According to the documents, the second phase of the fund was transferred to Odhikar from European Union on July 8, 2013 and it was partly disbursed on approval from the NGO Affairs Bureau.
Tk 38,46,875.11 of the fund was still in the bank account as the bureau did not approve disbursement of the fund later, Adilur said.
The then EU delegation charge d’ affairs Milko Van Gool initiated the project ‘Education on the Convention against Torture and OPCAT Awareness Programme in Bangladesh.’
Adilur said the project was duly approved by the bureau.
‘Odhikar’s laptops, CPUs and some important documents, which contained confidential information of victims and their families, were taken away by the Detective Branch of police in August 2013 and those were not returned to Odhikar,’ Odhikar team said in a statement.
Asked if the inquiry would be affected due to the seizure, Jalal said, ‘We seek two documents relating to the fund.’
A number of rights defenders gathered at the commission headquarters during the interrogation to express solidarity with Adilur.
Of them, Chowdhury Rafiqul Abrar, also Dhaka University professor of international relations, told reporters, ‘Adilur is facing harassment despite having valid document and transparency in fund using…I am surprised to see how the allegation of money laundering is raised.’
Asian Human Rights Commission urged the government to stop ‘the new phase of attack in the saga of ongoing reprisal against’ Odhikar.
‘Such investigation is being conducted in an intimidating atmosphere in the office of ACC, an agency lacking in independence and credibility,’ it said in a statement.

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