Dhaka: Bangladesh on Monday freed a top aide of underworld don Dawood Ibrahim on the expiry of his jail term for cross-border intrusion, sparking speculations about his extradition to India where he was convicted for killing Bollywood music baron Gulshan Kumar in 1997.
Home Minister Asaduzzaman Khan said Daud Merchant was released as his jail term expired but did not clarify whether he was handed over to India, where he is to stand trial.
"He (Merchant) has been released. His prison term for illegal trespass into Bangladesh ended some time ago," he said.
Merchant walked out of the Dhaka Central Jail in the afternoon.
Known to be close to Mumbai mafia don Dawood Ibrahim, Merchant was jailed by a Bangladeshi court for five years which expired in December 2014. He was briefly released, but was immediately rearrested and prison official said he was detained under a law meant for people accused of "suspicious movement" for the past three years.
Allegedly a contract killer, he was sentenced to life term in India in 2002 for killing Kumar who headed the music company T-Series in 1997.
Kumar was shot while he was coming out of a temple on August 12, 1997. Merchant, however, filed an appeal against his conviction. He absconded after being released on parole in April, 2009 to visit his family in Mumbai.
The same year, detectives arrested him from Brahmanbarhia’s Mourail, with two associates, while he was hiding in the residence of one Kamal Mian. He was then sentenced to five years in prison for intruding and illegally staying in Bangladesh.
Merchant's release came 11 months after Bangladesh authorities said that they decided to extradite Merchant. In January, the home minister had said that Dhaka was working to extradite him.