Bangladesh NGO head sentenced to 11 years for forging Covid test reports
Dhaka, July 19 (EFE).- A Bangladesh court on Tuesday sentenced the chairman of a non-profit and seven others to 11 years for forging Covid test reports at the start of the pandemic in 2020, marking the first verdict in such a case in the country.
Public prosecutor Azad Rahman said that JKG Health Care chairman Sabrina Arif Chowdhury, her husband and chief executive officer Arif Chowdhury and six other employees were also fined a sum equivalent to $115, the failure to pay which will result in another 11 months imprisonment.
Dhaka’s Additional Chief Metropolitan Magistrate Md Tofazzal Hossain handed down the sentence in the presence of the convicts at the packed courtroom.
“They faked nearly 5,000 Covid test reports and were facing a charge of cheating, forgery. We could prove the charges in court,” Rahman told EFE.
On Jun.24, 2020, Bangladesh’s Directorate General of Health Services revoked the permission granted to the nonprofit to collect samples for Covid-19 tests after its employees were found providing fake test certificates.
The decision came after police raided its office and the houses of some its employees to find several hard copies of fake Covid-19 test reports.
An assistant commissioner of Dhaka Metropolitan Police at that time told EFE that they had confiscated four laptops from the JKG office and one of them was found to contain 1,500 certificates, which were then sent for verification.
The nonprofit had permission to set up 44 centers in Dhaka and neighboring Narayanganj to collect samples from suspected Covid-19 patients free of charge and send them to government laboratories for testing.
However, according to the police, the NGO workers visited people’s houses and collected samples for a fee, and issued certificates showing whatever result the client wanted.
It prompted the authorities to launch a crackdown against Covid test forgery, with the country’s elite security force Rapid Action Battalion raiding several hospitals and sealing them off.
One owner of a hospital was booked for issuing nearly 6,000 fake Covid test reports without even conducting a test. The case is currently under trial. EFE