Bangladeshi Journo, Engineer: Now in custody of Libyan authorities

Bangladeshi journalist Zahidur Rahman and expatriate engineer Saiful Islam Tipu, who went missing in Tripoli on March 23, are now in the "safe custody" of the Libyan authorities.

The Bangladesh embassy in Libya said it was trying to get them released but couldn't confirm when and how that would be done.

Speaking to The Daily Star last night, Zahidur's son Farhan Asif Rahman said State Minister for Disaster Management and Relief Md Enamur Rahman told them in the evening that his father was in the custody of the Libyan authorities.

Earlier, the Libyan authorities communicated it to the embassy, said Farhan, a third-year student at a private university.

Zahidur, a special correspondent of private TV channel NTV, is also a director of Enam Medical College Hospital in Savar, on the outskirts of the capital. Enamur is the founding chairman of the private hospital.

Major General SM Shamim-Uz-Zaman, Bangladesh ambassador to Libya, has ‍confirmed the development.

He told The Daily Star last night, "We are in constant contact with various Libyan authorities to get updates on Zahidur and Saiful. Around 6:30pm on Monday [Bangladeshi time], we got information from the Libyan authorities that the two were taken into safe custody.

"We haven't met them yet. But the positive thing is that they are safe since they are in the custody of the authorities. This is the first time any government agency has confirmed this. As soon as I learnt about it, I communicated it to the foreign minister in Dhaka. We are trying to have the two Bangladeshis released."

Libyan driver Mohammad Khaled, who was also missing, has been released, sources said, but officials from the embassy haven't been able to contact him.

On March 3, Zahid flew to London on a family visa by a Turkish Airlines flight. From there, he travelled to Ireland, Scotland, and then to Libya on March 21, said his family.

He, along with Saiful and Khaled, visited several places in Tripoli and took pictures. All three were picked up from the city on March 23.

Hailing from Narsingdi, Saiful's father Darul Islam, a businessman, has been living in Libya for 34 years. Talking to this correspondent last night, he said they came to know yesterday that his son and the journalist had been in the custody of the Libyan home ministry.

It has also been communicated to them by the embassy, he said.

"Please pray for my son. Pray that he returns to us soon," Saiful's mother Sajeda Khanam said over the phone.

Zahidur's wife Taslima Rahman also demanded that her husband be returned as early as possible.

[Shariful Hasan is a journalist writing for The Daily Star]


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