06/11/2009, 00.00
BANGLADESH
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Catholic chef has a “really rough time in Dhaka’s central jail”

by William Gomes
Now out on bail, the chef at the Castel Inn was initially arrested for allegedly possessing illegal alcoholic beverages. He spend two weeks in prison in a cell built for 20 inmates but housing around 240. Now local Catholics are waiting for the trial, demanding justice.
Dhaka (AsiaNews) – Sapon D Costa, a hotel chef arrested during the night of 25 May for allegedly possessing illegal alcoholic beverages, was recently released on bail to wait for trial. For two weeks the Catholic man was imprisoned in Dhaka, locked up in a cell originally built for 20 inmates but currently holding about 240 men. In this short period of time he got sick because of poor hygiene and inadequate food, “not even sufficient for a child.”

I had a really rough time in the central jail,” Costa said, “locked up with 240 people in a cell built for 20. I got a skin disease that covered by whole body and whatever food we got it was not even sufficient for a child. It is really inhumane in Dhaka’s central jail.”

Fortunately for him Sapon D Costa was released on bail last Saturday. As soon as he got out he and his entire family went to church to attend Mass and thank God.

His wife Onima Corraya said that she “prayed to Our Lady”, grateful to the priests and the Catholic community who showed solidarity and support. She said she hoped her husband can go back to work.

After Sapon D Costa’s arrest a number of Christian associations and human rights activists mobilised on his behalf, calling for a fair trial and an impartial investigation.

Fr Edmond Cruze, a local Holy Cross priest, said that Costa’s release was not enough; instead, “we want justice.”

Indeed for days the Catholic chef was locked up in his crowded cell not knowing what charges had been brought against him.

The initial warrant said that he was in possession of banned alcoholic beverages that had been served at a party held on the evening of 24 May at the Castel Inn, the luxury resort where Costa works.

“A bunch of young men and women were released after paying the agents. I am poor and could give them nothing,” Costa said.

Eventually he found about the charges against him after a few days in prison.

“Customers brought alcoholic drinks in from the outside. Only those who were at the party and the hotel manager could have known about the bottles’ content,” he explained.

The manager perhaps tried to get him into a compromising situation in order to get him fired and have his relatives and friends hired instead.

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