Nation this week
Kuwait's Criminal Court sentenced Bangladeshi lawmaker Kazi Shahidul Islam Papul to four years in jail, reports Kuwaiti newspaper Alqabas. The Court headed by Counselor Abdullah Al-Othman issued the judgment in the sensational human-trafficking and money-laundering cases. The court also sentenced Kuwaiti official Maj Gen Mazen Al-Jarrah and the last mediator and agent. They were further fined 1.9 million Kuwaiti dinars. Kuwaiti MP Saadoun Hammad and former MP Salah Khorshid were acquitted in the cases.
Kuwait's Criminal Investigation Department had arrested Shahid, an independent lawmaker from Laxmipur-2, and also the managing director and CEO of Marafie Kuwaitia Group. He was accused of charging each foreign worker, mostly from Bangladesh, up to 3,000 dinars in exchange for taking them to Kuwait. Many of them, however, alleged they were not provided with the jobs and wages as promised. Shahid has since confessed to bribing millions of dollars to Kuwaiti officials for recruiting Bangladeshi workers and getting contracts for his company.
Twenty-eight UK expatriates who arrived in Sylhet on the same flight initially tested positive for Covid-19, only for 25 of them to be negative in a second round of testing. Three others tested positive both times. Meanwhile, a seven-member team from the Institute of Epidemiology, Disease Control and Research (IEDCR) arrived in Sylhet to examine if they have the new strain of coronavirus that has been identified in the UK.
Sources said that on January 21, a Biman Bangladesh flight (BG-202) arrived in Sylhet from London's Heathrow Airport with 157 passengers on board. Passengers were kept in institutional quarantine at 7 hotels in Sylhet city. After four days stay there, their samples were collected on Sunday, January 24, as per government instructions. The next day, their Covid-19 report came positive in the privately established PCR Lab at Semantic. According to Sylhet International Osmani Airport sources, 544 expatriates came to Sylhet from the United Kingdom in the 20 days from January 4 to January 25.
Ruling Awami League mayoral candidate Rezaul Karim Chowdhury won the Chattogram City Corporation elections marred by allegations of irregularities, ousting of opposition Bangladesh Nationalist Party-backed candidate's polling agents, capturing of polling centres by the ruling party activists, election boycotting and violence that killed two people and injured scores.
AL mayoral candidate won the election by bagging 3, 69,258 votes in 733 centres, out of 735, defeating his nearest competitor and Bangladesh Nationalist Party candidate Shahadat Hossain, who bagged 52,489 votes. Balloting in two polling centres was suspended due to election violence. Returning officer Muhammad Hasanuzzaman announced the election result at the Gymnasium Hall of MA Aziz Stadium, saying that a total of 4, 36,543 votes were cast in the election, which means just 22.52 percent of the electorate exercised their franchise. Election commissioner Mahbub Talukdar the next day termed it 'a model of a rigged election'.
Mobile phone network operator Grameenphone posted a record Tk 3,671.71 crore in net profit in 2020 although it suffered a 2.82 per cent revenue fall during the COVID-19-hit year. GP's annual report for the year 2020 showed that the operator's profit grew by 6.14 per cent or Tk 212.33 crore from Tk 3,459.34 crore in the previous year. GP's revenue dropped to Tk 13,960.61 crore, down by Tk 405.01 crore from Tk 14,365.63 crore in revenue in 2019.
'During the fourth quarter, we reached more than 14,000 4G sites, and witnessed a promising growth of 65.6 per cent in 4G users, ending 2020 with 1.98 crore customers empowered with 4G, which is a major milestone while entering 2021,' GP chief executive officer Yasir Azman said. 'Economic recovery in the fourth quarter was lower-than-expected, impacting us in a year full of unprecedented challenges amidst COVID-19 pandemic.'
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