A Bangladesh court on Sunday ordered the opening of an investigation of accusations by a cartoonist of torture by police under the Digital Security Act, his lawyer said.
Ahmed Kabir Kishore, 45, was arrested in May 2020 under a controversial charge of carrying out anti-state activities and spreading rumors. He was jailed for several months.
The well-known cartoonist won bail from the High Court two weeks ago after an outcry surrounding the February prison death of Mushtaq Ahmed, a writer arrested under the same law.
Kishore claimed that he and Ahmed were being held in the same prison and that the writer was also tortured by strangers, which the authorities categorically deny.
Kishore filed a petition in a Dhaka court on Wednesday, claiming he was beaten and severely slapped by more than a dozen strangers who kidnapped him on May 2 and held him for nearly three days.
He said the men questioned him about cartoons he drew mocking a powerful businessman close to the government, and a series of cartoons criticizing the government's response to the coronavirus pandemic. According to him, the strangers then handed him over to an elite police unit.
The court also ordered a specialized investigative service of the police "to investigate the alleged torture and submit a report by April 15," the cartoonist's lawyer, Jyotirmoy Barua, told AFP.
The lawyer also said the court ordered three doctors from a Dhaka hospital to examine Kishore and added that Kishore underwent surgery Saturday on his right ear for injuries he allegedly sustained when he was beaten.
Ahmed's death in prison sparked several days of protests against the government of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina. Protesters also called for the repeal of digital laws, which they say are used to quell dissent.
The United States, the European Union and the United Nations have all expressed concern over the harshness of these laws.