Actress Charged After Police Allegedly Find Drugs During Raid

Pori Moni, a popular Bangladeshi movie star and model, has officially been charged after she was arrested during a drug raid in August. The 28-year-old, who later claimed she was framed, was also granted permanent bail while she awaits trial. Two of her associates, Ashraful Islam Dipu and Kabir Hossain, are also facing charges. 

On Sunday, Metropolitan Magistrate Satyabrata Sikder granted the bail order after Moni surrendered to the court in Dakha, reports The Daily Star. The magistrate also accepted the charges, but the court was not happy that Mori showed up over an hour and a half late. The Criminal Investigation Department (CID)  pressed the charges on Oct. 4.

Moni was not feeling well during the hearing. She looked pale and could be seen taking off her facemask to breathe. She stayed at the court after the hearing to avoid reporters, reports BDNews24. She reportedly felt better after leaving the building. Prosecutors argued against the bail order, alleging that a "huge amount of drugs" were found in her possession when she was arrested. The prosecutor also called her late arrival "unacceptable."

Back on Aug. 4, members of the Rapid Action Battalion (RAB) first detained Moni after they allegedly found "huge quantities" of narcotics and alcohol, RAM intelligence director Lt. Col. Khairul Islam said, reports The Daily Star. Islam claimed that the narcotics, which allegedly included LSD, were found hidden inside a showcase, cabinet, and side-table at Moni's house in Banani. RAB legal and media wing director Khandaker Al Moin claimed the raid was launched based on "specific allegations." Before the arrest, Moni also went live on Facebook, claiming people entered her building and were knocking on her door.

Three other people linked to Moni were arrested in raids earlier this month. Film producer Nazrul Islam Raj. Moni's manager Ashraful Islam Dipu, and Raj's manager Sabul Ali were also arrested, reports New Age Bangladesh. RAB claimed Moni and Raj were part of a "syndicate" of 10 to 12 people who held parties at their houses where alcohol and drugs were used.

Moni claimed she was being framed after she left a courtroom on Aug. 10, following a four-day remand on the drug charges, reports BDNews24. "I'm being framed on false charges and you are laughing!" she told reporters. During the hearing, Metropolitan Magistrate Debabrata Biswas gave police six more days to remand Moni and the other defendants. One of Moni's lawyers, Md Mojibur Rahman, claimed there were no documents in the case that identified her as a drug dealer. "If she'd done drugs and narcotics were found in her home, she should be sent to rehabilitation, not remanded, in line with the law," Rahman said, accusing authorities of treating his client as a "thug" in the case. He also accused prosecutors of not allowing him to see the remand petition, but the prosecutors denied the allegation.

On Saturday, Dhaka Metropolitan Magistrate Ashik Imam approved a request to bring Moni back to jail following the third round of questioning from police, reports BDNews24. CID Inspector Kazi Golam Mostafa, who is now the lead investigator on the case, said authorities obtained "important information" and had enough evidence to justify keeping Moni in custody. During the latest hearing, Rahman said they would not apply for bail, but Moni appeared frustrated with this, demanding they apply for bail. She was denied bail at the end of her second remand term.

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This situation is unfolding after Moni made headlines in June in Bangladesh for accusing businessman Nasir U Mahmood and five others of attempted rape and murder. She filed a case with police on June 14, claiming that on the night of June 8, Mahmood and another man forced her to drink alcohol at a club. She claimed the two men began touching her inappropriately and beat her up as she resisted. On June 17, investigators said they found evidence contradicting her claims, reports the Dhaka Tribune.

Moni's real name is Shamsunnahar Smrity. She has starred in over a dozen films since 2015 and has won a few awards from Bangladeshi critics groups. In December 2020, she made Forbes' "Asia's 100 Digital Stars" list.