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A Dhaka court yesterday sentenced detained Dhaka City Corporation Councillor, formerly ward commissioner, Chowdhury Alam to 12 years' rigorous imprisonment (RI) for extorting Tk 23.93 crore from 2370 shop owners of Bangabazar Complex between 2003 and 2005.

Earlier Alam was convicted for 10 years' RI for extorting Tk 20 lakh from a market owner in August 2003.

He was also sentenced to 13 years imprisonment for amassing wealth worth Tk 4.97 crore illegally and concealing wealth information from the Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC).

Judge Kiron Shankar Halder of the First Joint Sessions Judge's Court handed down the sentence in presence of the convict at a packed courtroom yesterday.

The court fined Alam Tk 2 lakh, in default of which he has to suffer two more years of RI. The court sentenced Rahamat Ali to five years RI for committing the same offences.

One of Alam's accomplices, Haji Jamal Uddin, was acquitted, as his involvement with the extortion was not proved.

Earlier, the prosecution and defence completed their arguments and the court recorded statements of 61 prosecution witnesses.

According to the prosecution, Alam, also president of Bangabazar Complex, and his accomplices stopped the 2370 shop owners from depositing their trade licence fees and rents to the authorities. He demanded Tk 1.01 lakh from each shop.

The shop owners paid a total of Tk 23.93 crore to Alam on different dates between 2003 and 2005.

After the caretaker government came to power, Mohammad Shahjahan, another president of Bangabazar complex, filed the case against Alam and others with Shahbagh Police Station on May 1 last year.

The investigation officer pressed charges against Alam and two others on July 11 the same year.

Alam, an accused in a dozen other criminal cases, was sent to jail after he surrendered before the court on February 22 last year in connection with a criminal case filed with Paltan Police Station.

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