US & World

Bangladesh Wants U.S. to Fast-Track Deportation of L.A. Man

A spokesman for the government of Bangladesh wants the United States to speed up its plans to deport a former Bangladeshi diplomat living in Los Angeles. A Bangladeshi court sentenced Mohiuddin Ahmed in absentia for helping assassinate the country's first leader. Ahmed says he's innocent.

Frank Stoltze: The deputy chief of mission at the Bangladeshi Embassy in Washington D.C. is Sheikh Mohammed Belal. He says his country's courts found Mohiuddin Ahmed guilty of murder, and he should be returned to Bangladesh.

Mohammed Belal: He has been convicted of a crime in Bangladesh, so the government of Bangladesh is interested to have him back. So definitely, yeah, it's a case involving one of our very important political persons in our history.

Stoltze: That person was the country's first democratically elected leader. Opponents claim he had become a dictator, and killed him in a coup on August 15th, 1975. Ahmed, then an army major, says he merely supervised a roadblock that night. He contends his conviction was politically motivated. Belal, of the Bangladesh government, counters Ahmed got a fair trial.

Belal: Our judicial system is very much independent, and even if the government wants to do something, there is no way they can do, because the judiciary is absolutely free.

Stoltze: That's not the way Orange County Republican Congressman Dana Rohrbacher sees it. Spokeswoman Tara Setnayer says his office convinced immigration authorities, who have denied Ahmed political asylum, to delay his deportation, which had been scheduled for Monday night.

Tara Setnayer: Both Amnesty International and the state department have determined that the judicial system in Bangladesh, the integrity of that system is questionable at best. So Congressman Rohrabacher has a tendency to take the side of those who are unjustly persecuted if that is, in fact, the case. We really don't know that.

Joseph Sandoval They really came in and they were angels to us.

Stoltze: Joseph Sandoval is Ahmed's attorney. He acknowledges the coup in Bangladesh more than three decades ago resulted in not just the assassination of a president, but the killing of that leader's family, including a 10-year-old boy.

Sandoval: The murders were very brutal, but we maintain that my client that night was not involved in that brutality.

Stoltze: Sandoval says he's looking, along with Ahmed's family, for a neutral third country to accept him. It's unclear how much time they have. Immigration authorities have refused to say when they plan to deport Ahmed, who has lived with his family in Los Angeles for a decade, and for now remains detained by U.S. immigration authorities.