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CRIME

Bangladesh official ‘ordered Italian’s murder’

A senior Bangladeshi minister accused a main opposition party official Wednesday of ordering an Italian aid worker's murder as part of a plot to destabilize the government.

Bangladesh official 'ordered Italian's murder'
A Bangladesh official allegedly sanctioned the murder of an Italian aid worker last month. Photo:Stringer/AFP

Home Minister Asaduzzaman Khan Kamal said police are hunting for Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) official M. A. Quayum for allegedly orchestrating the deadly shooting of Cesare Tavella in the capital late last month.
   
Police on Monday said four people had been arrested, three of whom they said had admitted carrying out the September 28th contract killing on orders of a so-called “big brother”.
   
“Quayum is the big brother,” Kamal told reporters on Wednesday.
   
Quayum, who is believed to have fled the country, is a mid-ranking BNP official and a former Dhaka councillor.
   
Kamal said police have “conclusive evidence” Quayum ordered the killing as part of a “conspiracy” to trigger anarchy and pile pressure on the government, although he did not elaborate.
   
The killing near Dhaka's diplomatic zone was the first of a series of attacks to be claimed by Islamic State (IS) and was followed days later by the gunning down of a Japanese farmer in northern Bangladesh.
   
A weekend bombing of the capital's main Shiite shrine, which killed one person and wounded dozens more, has further heightened the fears of minorities living in the mainly Muslim but officially secular nation.
   
Although that attack was also claimed by IS, the government responded by denying the extremist group was active in Bangladesh and instead rounded up dozens of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina's opponents.
   
BNP secretary general Fakhrul Islam Alamgir rejected the home minister's claim, saying that it was “unacceptable and not believable”.
   
“We've said clearly that the government should conduct proper investigations into these murders. Instead, they are using these to suppress a democratic opposition,” he told AFP.

The government has consistently blamed the BNP and its main Islamist ally Jamaat-e-Islami for the unrest which has plagued Bangladesh since their refusal to take part in a January 2014 general election.
   
After the attack on the Shiite shrine, a former BNP lawmaker and several senior BNP and Jamaat officials were detained. Police said the arrests were related to previous unrest and not linked to Saturday's blast.

One of the four arrested over the aid worker's killing, Tamjid Ahmed Rubel, has told his family that he was forced into making a confession.

“When I went to visit him in the jail Tuesday, he told me he didn't do it but he was coerced by police to admit the false allegations,” Rubel's uncle, Mainuddin Ahmed Tawhid, told AFP.

“We don't understand what is happening,” Tawhid said, adding that his nephew disappeared two weeks ago.
   
US-based extremist monitoring group SITE defended its publication of all three IS claims after Bangladesh police cast doubt on their authenticity.

“The claims have been authenticated and found credible by SITE's rigorous verification process,” the group said in a statement.

CRIME

 Italian police arrest mafia member after three women killed in Rome

Italian police on Saturday arrested a mafia member suspected of killing two alleged Chinese prostitutes and a Colombian sex worker in Rome, local media reported.

 Italian police arrest mafia member after three women killed in Rome

The bodies of the two Chinese women were discovered in a residential building in the upmarket Prati district on Thursday morning, while the body of the South American was found in an apartment in the same neighbourhood an hour later.

All three victims were stabbed, according to Italian media reports.

According to the Corriere della Sera newspaper, footage from surveillance cameras allowed police to identify 51-year-old Giandavide De Pau, who had been prosecuted in the past for drug trafficking and sexual assault.

The suspect is reportedly a member of a mafia clan headed by Michele Senese, who is currently serving a life sentence. De Pau is believed to have been one of Senese’s closest collaborators, acting as his personal driver and handyman.

In 2008 and 2011, the suspect had also spent time in a psychiatric hospital.

It is unknown whether the suspected killer was carrying out a mafia hit or acting alone, possibly under the influence of drugs, which were found at the home of some family members where he is believed to have sought refuge after the police manhunt got underway, Corriere della Sera reported.

Several newspapers had warned of a possible “serial killer” in the Italian capital.

The body of one of the Chinese victims was spotted by a neighbour where it lay, naked on a landing. The woman, believed to be in her 40s, had suffered head and stomach injuries, the newspaper said.

When police entered her apartment, they found the body of the second Chinese woman.

Nobody in the building appeared to have heard the murders take place, according to residents.

“Everybody knew there was a house of ill repute here, I’d see people arriving at 2:00 am, 3:00 am,” a woman who lived in the building told reporters.

The body of the Colombian, who was 65, was found by a friend, Corriere della Sera said.

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