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Doctors return Bangladesh photographer to police custody

August 8, 2018

DHAKA, Bangladesh (AP) — A well-known photographer and activist in Bangladesh who accused police of torturing him after his arrest last weekend returned to police custody on Wednesday following a medical examination that declared him physically fine.

The High Court on Tuesday ordered authorities to take Shahidul Alam to a state-run hospital for a checkup after the allegations that he was beaten in custody.

Alam faces charges of spreading false information about recent student protests that embarrassed the government. He was also critical of the government of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina in a recent interview with Al Jazeera Television in which he said she had no credibility and was using “brute force” to cling to power.

His arrest has been condemned by Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International, which have demanded his immediate release.

A lower court ordered Alam held for seven days for police interrogation, but the High Court canceled the order and asked the authorities to take him to the hospital.

The director of the Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujib Medical University, Brig. Gen. Abdullah-Al-Harun, said Wednesday they found no reason to hospitalize Alam.

The protests, set off by the deaths of two students killed by speeding buses, grew last week to tens of thousands of people, becoming a major embarrassment for Hasina’s government, which faces a general election later this year.

In the nine-day protests, scores of people, mostly students and journalists, were injured. An Associated Press photographer was among the wounded journalists, who have blamed ruling party supporters for targeted attacks. The government has denied the allegations.

On Wednesday, traffic eased across the country while students returned to classes, and no new violence was reported.

The ruling Awami League party is blaming the main opposition party, led by former Prime Minister Khaleda Zia, and its main ally Jamaat-e-Islami, saying they are manipulating student anger to foment trouble.

Authorities have warned of tougher measures if the protests are used to create chaos.

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