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Man Denied Asylum Returns to Asia

Times Staff Writer

A former Bangladeshi army officer who admitted torturing villagers there is returning to his native land, ending a nearly 10-year battle to remove him from this country, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials said Wednesday.

While he was not technically deported, Sazzad Ahmed Bipu, 35, was given no choice about leaving, said Robert Bryant, deputy chief counsel for Immigration and Customs Enforcement in Los Angeles. Bryant said that if Bipu had not boarded a commercial flight at Los Angeles International Airport late Tuesday, in accordance with a judge’s demand that he leave voluntarily, a mandatory “order of departure” would have been issued.

According to Bryant, Bipu said that while serving as a second lieutenant in the Bangladeshi army, he was ordered to intimidate villagers into voting for candidates from the ruling Bangladesh Nationalist Party.

The attorney said that Bipu had the villagers’ crops burned, and that when they continued to resist his orders to support nationalist candidates, he had them submerged overnight “in very cold water, up to their necks.” Although Bipu admitted doing that only once, he said he had stood by and watched as his troops persecuted villagers on several other occasions, Bryant said.

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“He said he was just following orders,” Bryant said.

Bipu, his wife and child came to the U.S. in 1996 on tourist visas. When they overstayed the visas, they applied for asylum, and Bipu opened a restaurant in Northridge, Bryant said.

An immigration judge denied the family asylum, finding that Bipu had committed human rights violations, Bryant said. Bipu appealed but was turned down by the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals, which noted that “Bipu, himself, testified to his persecution of others.”

Bipu was arrested May 28 and remained in custody until he boarded the plane late Tuesday. The appeals court said that, given the political climate in Bangladesh, Bipu is not expected to face retribution there.

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Bryant said Bipu’s wife and child were being given a month to take care of family affairs here before joining him in Bangladesh.


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