Doctors say ex-Bangladesh PM’s son crippled by torture

The eldest son and heir apparent of two times former Bangladeshi premier Khaleda Zia was partially paralysed when tortured in custody, doctors said Sunday.

Tareque Rahman was strung up blindfolded in a dark room, then dropped down and struck against a wall, fracturing two bones in his back, a doctor who treated him quoted from his medical report.

Rahman was partially paralysed by the impact of the fall, which has resulted in “gradual wasting of his right lower limbs,” Kazi Mazharul Islam Dolon said.

“He cannot stand for more than three to four minutes because of the acute pain due to the compression fracture. He has been on pain killers ever since he was admitted in the hospital in January”.

Rahman, who is joint secretary of the Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP), has been detained since March last year on graft charges after the government launched an anti-corruption crackdown.

Although he did not have a ministerial role in his mother’s government, the 42-year-old was frequently referred to as the most powerful man in Bangladesh during Zia’s second tenure as prime minister between 2001 and 2005.

In June his lawyer told a court that Rahman had been energetic and fit before he was arrested, but was now physically unable to appear in court.

Serajuddin Ahmed, the doctor who headed three medical teams that treated Rahman, said Zia’s eldest son was injured 10 to 11 months ago when he was in police custody.

The army-backed government, which came to power in January 2007 after emergency rule was imposed and elections cancelled, has not made any comment on the torture claims.

It has hinted that it would release Rahman and his mother from custody, as it wants to secure participation of Zia’s party in general elections to be held in December.