BELIZE CITY, Mon. July 3, 2017–A Bangladeshi man who has been living and working in Belize for a number of years, at first in the Orange Walk District and later in Belize City, was found dead on Saturday, tied up with his hands behind his back.
Abdush Salam, 29, was last seen alive at Al Rafa Mini Mart, the shop he operated inside the Novelo’s Bus Terminal on East Collet Canal. Salam closed up his shop around 1:30 p.m. on Saturday and went home to his apartment at 4 Orange Street to have lunch. Salam had no family in Belize and lived alone in his apartment.
Around 6:15 p.m., however, police were called to Salam’s apartment after his lifeless body was discovered by one of the occupants of the apartment. Salam was lying face down and was naked in his bed, with his hands tied behind his back. He had reportedly been tied up with a belt.
Somehow, someone gained entry to the apartment, and Salam was manually strangled, a post mortem examination confirmed this afternoon.
Amandala has learned that there are about 150 Bangladesh nationals working in Belize, mostly as businessmen.
Assistant Superintendent of Police, Alejandro Cowo, the officer in charge of Belize City Crimes Investigation Branch (CIB), when asked at the KHMH morgue what kind of Belizean identification document did Salam have, replied that Salam did not have any Belizean identification documents.
Earlier at a police press briefing, Amandala asked Cowo how long Salam had been living in Belize, and Cowo replied that Salam had been living in Belize for about two years. Amandala’s investigation, however, has indicated that Salam has been living in Belize for about four years.
Cowo told reporters this morning that there was no forced entry to the second floor of the three-storey apartment building where Salam’s body was discovered.
We asked Cowo if the police were looking for someone named “Alex,” who reportedly was the last person to have texted Salam on his cell phone.
Cowo, however, would only say that police “have other information, but we cannot disclose the name of the person that we suspect at this time.”
Cowo was also asked if he could confirm that Salam had been living a particular lifestyle and had various persons going in and out of his apartment.
“We have received that same information,” Cowo confirmed, “and we are following it.”
Cowo also told reporters that the Bangladeshi businessman was brought to the country by “a certain individual,” and after a period of time, he paid for his own business.
Does the information that the police have on hand point to a motive or a suspect, we asked Cowo.
“No, not so far,” Cowo answered.
Cowo admitted, however, that the police are “just going by a name” that was given to them. He said he didn’t know whether the person (suspect) is a local or a foreigner.
At the Novelo’s Bus Terminal, there are 12 small shops that cater to commuters; 10 of the shops are staffed by Bangladeshi.
One Bangladeshi man who would only give his name as Kahli said he has known Salam for four years.
He said that every month he would give the person who owns the shop some money.
Another person from Bangladesh, a 16-year-old minor, told us that he is working in the shop for his father.
One of the shop keepers, Forhad Miah, 27, told us that Salam left his (Salam’s) shop about 1:00 p.m., on Saturday. Salam returned and loaded his freezer, and then he left again; this was about 3:00 p.m.
The last person who texted Salam’s phone was somebody named “Alex.” Miah described Alex as a Hispanic man. “We don’t know if they were sexually involved, because in our culture, we don’t do things in the open”, he said.
Miah said that the Bangladeshi community got the information about Alex being a suspect from the police.
“Police asked us, ‘do you know Alex’, we said we don’t know Alex,” Miah said.
Ziollera Martinez, a Belizean, told us that she works at a bakery and delivers stuff to the shops in the terminal. “I have only known Salam for two months since I started to do deliveries to the shops. I think the shops are owned by Mr. Amin, I don’t know his last name,” she said.
Amin Fokrul told us to go to Amin Supermarket, on Queen Street. “Mr. Amin he knows everything,” he said.
The country, Bangladesh, came into being in 1971. It was formerly known as East Pakistan, but split into two parts after a bitter war that drew in their neighbor, India. For 15 years Bangladesh was under military rule until democracy was restored in 1990 to the most densely populated country in the world, which has a population of 162 million “crammed into a delta of rivers that empties into the Bay of Bengal,” said the BBC. Bangladesh is a Muslim country and its main language is Bengali.