Following the leak of his phone call with seven-murder accused Nur Hossain, Awami League lawmaker Shamim Osman yesterday admitted to making the conversation but claimed the media published it partially.
During a briefing at his Gulshan residence in the capital, Shamim said he had asked Hossain to surrender before the court if he had no complicity in the crime.
But in the leaked conversation, obtained by The Daily Star, after Hossain sought help in fleeing the country, the ruling party MP said, “It would not be a problem."
Shamim also asked, "Do you have any seal [visa]?"
Hossain replied, "Yes I have one but how can I go? There is alert everywhere." With assurance, Shamim said there was nothing like that. "You proceed."
Hossain then requested the MP to inquire further and said, "I will call tomorrow."
According to a Prothom Alo report published yesterday, the phone conversation took place on April 29, two days after the abduction of seven people, including Narayanganj panel mayor Nazrul Islam.
Hossain was around Dhanmondi-4 when the phone call was made, the report said.
Crying, he was saying, “I do not have much education, I have made many mistakes. You are like my father, I love you very much.”
Shamim said, “Why do you worry this much? Give me some time. And if possible, meet Gaur Da.”
The AL leader wanted to know whether Hossain got “the information” he had sent. He added somebody was trying to kill two birds with one shot.
On April 27, Nazrul, his four aides, senior lawyer Chandan Sarker and his driver were kidnapped from the Dhaka-Narayanganj link road.
Of them, six including Nazrul and Chandan were found dead, floating in the Shitalakkhya on April 30. Another body was found the following day. The other victims are Moniruzzaman Swapan, Tajul Islam, Liton, Jahangir and Ibrahim.
After the leak, locals and victims' families in Narayanganj demanded arrest and trial of Shamim in connection with the seven-murder.
During yesterday's briefing, Shamim said the conversation was recorded by an intelligence agency, as neither journalists nor politicians can tap phone.
"I know that my phone is being tapped and I still talk over the phone," he said, claiming his conversation was published after editing out a portion.
He told journalists that two police officials requested him to ask Hossain to surrender if the accused contacts him.
"I told him [Hossain] that you have a lot of money. You contact with the best lawyer of Bangladesh. There is one Mr Baset. I'm contacting with senior lawyers. You meet them, brother," he said.
"If you have no complicity, go and talk to them and surrender to the court. If you surrender to the court none will be able to kill you." He added that he had a fear that Hossain might get killed as well.
In reply, Hossain said he would rather go to a barrister named Gouranga. Shamim said he then told Hossain: "Ok, then go to Gouranga Da. [But] Do what I suggest."
After that, Shamim said, he wanted to know whether Hossain had any visa. "I had to know it as I know my party high command will ask me about his [Hossain's] whereabouts."
He claimed Hossain initially denied having one but later said he had Indian visa. "It means if he has gone anywhere legally, it would be India." The lawmaker noted the ADG of Rab too had said this.
Referring to the Rab, he said they have modern technologies and they can leak out phone conversations. If they really knew that Hossain had called him from Dhanmondi-4 area and was staying at Gulshan a day before, why didn't they arrest the accused?
"…They recorded my conversation...it means they were tracking my phone calls....if Nur Hossain is the killer, if Nur Hossain is the criminal, then why he was not arrested? Arresting him is not my duty. My duty is to raise my voice and I did that."
Also at the briefing, Shamim came down hard on Prothom Alo for publishing the report. But he sought assistance from the media, and said, "My life is under threat. I need your help."
Without naming anyone, he alleged a high official was threatening him.
He said, "I would not say his name, he is a respected person and I knew him as a good officer. He treated me like anything. My rank is higher than a general and major general and his rank, I think, is like deputy secretary at best.
"He [the officer] told me, 'If I get caught, you won't get with it either'. I asked him second time what he said. The man replied, 'If we don't survive, you people also will not survive."
This had hurt him very much, added the influential ruling party leader.