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Illegal immigrant Abdur Rohim tells Canterbury Crown Court why he fled country after Chatham gran Harjit Chaggar's body found in shop basement

By Paul Hooper

The jury in the Chatham murder trial today heard evidence directly from a witness in Bangladesh - who denied having any part in the death of Harjit Chaggar.

It came from Abdur Rohim, who cooked for staff at the Sani Globe Food Store in Luton Road, where the battered body of the 69-year-old pensioner was found last year.

Speaking through an interpreter, prosecutor Bobbie Cheema QC asked Mr Rohim: "Did you have anything to do with Harjit Chaggar's death?"

Harjit Chaggar was found dead in a shop in Chatham

Mr Rohim, who cannot read or write, replied: "No, I even don't know that lady."

Three men who worked at the shop, Abdul Hannan, 44, of Aldon Close, Maidstone; Murshed Miah, 38, of Wheeler Street, Maidstone; and 28-year-old Mohammad Islam, of Windmill Road, Gillingham, have all denied murdering Mrs Chaggar.

A fourth man, Rasad Miah, 27, of Otway Street, Chatham, has also pleaded not guilty to preventing the lawful burial or cremation of a corpse.

Mr Rohim gave his evidence via a satellite link to Dahkar in a room that included two detectives and a representative from Britain's Foreign and Commonwealth Office.

He told the jury how he had gone to the Sani Globe to collect betel leaves and was asked if he would cook for the staff.

Abdul Hannan, accused of murdering Harjit Chaggar
Murshed Miah, accused of murdering Harjit Chaggar
Rasad Miah, accused of preventing the lawful burial or cremation of Harjit Chaggar

Mr Rohim admitted he had been in Britain illegally and returned to Bangladesh one week after the body of Mrs Chaggar was discovered in September last year.

The prosecutor asked how old he was, and Mr Rahim replied: "More than 60 but not below 60!"

He added: "I don't know how to read or write so I don't know when I first came to England. It is written down somewhere.

"I used to go to the shop for my betel leaves and to have some chat with them."

Mr Rohim said the shop was run by four brothers and he started going in on occasions to cook food for them.

Police outside the Luton shop where Harjit Chaggar's body was found

He said he did not know Mrs Chaggar, but saw her photograph on a poster in the shop "and knew the lady was missing".

He said a day before the body was found he was aware of a smell coming from inside the shop and incense sticks had been used in the past "to make the air fragrant and to keep the flies away".

Mr Rohim added he was working in a takeaway shop in Hoo when he heard about the shop being closed and a friend from the nearby mosque told him about the body being found.

He was asked why he had returned to Bangladesh a week later and said that he was told he was not able to find work.

"I was told I would be better off back in Bangladesh because I couldn't find work here," he said.

Police at Sani Globe Food store in Chatham after Mrs Chaggar's body was found

Earlier DC Linda Robb told the jury how she spoke to Abdul Hannan after the body had been discovered.

She said officers had seen what they believed to be a body and wanted the shop to be closed and staff to remain in place while the investigation was continuing.

"He asked me how long the shop would be closed and I told him that it was difficult to know at that stage. He said he would be made bankrupt..." - DC Linda Robb

She said: "He (Hannan) wasn't happy about not being able to trade. He said that he had a large meat order that he had to get out. And if he didn't get that meat order out he would be made bankrupt.

"He asked me how long the shop would be closed and I told him that it was difficult to know at that stage. He said he would be made bankrupt.

"A little later we were all standing there (in the shop) waiting for senior officers to attend. He asked me whether it (the body) was Aunty. I didn't know whether I had heard him properly.

"I said: 'Sorry?' and he said: 'Is it Aunty?' and he pointed to a poster in the window in the front of the shop. He pointed to the photo and I realised what he meant.

"I said: 'I don't know, I really don't know' and he said: 'She was a nice lady and they called her aunty'."

The trial continues.

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