Hectic efforts underway to return fugitive grenade attack accused

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DHAKA, Aug 20, 2018 (BSS) – The government has launched a hectic effort to
extradite 18 fugitives being tried in absentia as gruesome August 21, 2004
grenade attack as prosecution expects the trial process to be wrapped up
soon.

“We have tracked down nine of the 18 fugitive accused abroad and took a
multi-dimensional approach to bring them back,” Home Minister Asaduzzaman
Khan Kamal told BSS.

He added that efforts, however, were underway involving Interpol to track
down the rests as well to be exposed to justice for the attack on a rally of
the then main opposition Awami League when 24 people were killed in some 500
wounded.

The minister’s comments came as the case’s chief prosecutor Advocate Syed
Rezaur Rahman said they expected the trial process to be wrapped up “soon”
while 18 out of 52 charge-sheeted accused in the case being tried in
absentia.

“The court declared them (18 accused) fugitives,” Rahman said adding, among
others, 26 others were now in different jails while the rest eight were on
bail.

Officials and prosecutor’s said the key-accused of the case was BNP’s
senior vice chairman and ex-prime minister Begum Khaleda Zia’s elder son
Tarique Rahman, who is now living in London.

Intelligence officials familiar with the process substantiated the
minister’s comments detailing the whereabouts of the eight other fugitives,
two being ex-army officers, two ex-police officers and a former BNP lawmaker
and rests being operatives of militant Harkatul Jihad (HuJI), which carried
out the grisly assault.

An official preferring anonymity said fugitive HuJI operatives Tajuddin
Ahmed and his younger brother Ratul Babu are in South Africa, former BNP MP
Kazi Mofazzal Hossain Kaikobad is in Saudi Arabia.

He said the ex-premier Khaleda Zia’s the then special assistant Haris
Chowdhury was found to be moving from country to country – The United
Kingdom, USA, Malaysia, Singapore and India.

He said of the rests former major general ATM Amin and former Lt Colonel
Saiful Islam Joarder were now staying in Dubai while Mohibul Mustakin and his
brother Anisul Mursalin are now in Tihar Jail in India.

The officials said they were yet to find out the locations of militant
leaders Shafikur Rahman, Mufti Abdul Hai, Abu Bakar, Iqbal, Khalilur Rahman,
Jahangir Alam alias Badar, Liton alias Zobair alias Delwar, the then deputy
commissioner (east) and deputy commissioner (south) of Dhaka Metropolitan
Police (DMP) Md Obaidur Rahman and Khan Syed Hasan respectively are also
staying abroad, the sources said.

Three accused of the case former minister and Jamaat-e-Islami secretary
general Ali Ahsan Mohammad Mojaheed, and Harkatul Jihad chief Mufti Abdul
Hannan and another leader of the militant outfit Shahidul Alam Bipul were, by
now, been hanged after trial in other cases.

The heinous attack was carried out on an anti-terrorism rally of Awami
League, visibly with an aim to kill all the front ranking party leaders
including its president and incumbent Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, who
narrowly survived sustaining permanent hearing impairment.

The other central leaders around her also miraculously escaped the attack
as the assailants with grenades narrowly missed their targets.

The then Mohila Awami League President and late President Zillur Rahman’s
wife Ivy Rahman was one of the 24 killed in the attack.

Two separate cases–one for murder and another under the explosives act –
were filed with Motijheel police station the next day to this end.

Fifty-two people were accused in separate charge sheets in the two cases
over the August 21 grenade attacks.

During the last caretaker government’s tenure, the first two charge sheets
in the August 21 cases – one for murder and another under the explosive act –
were placed before the court on July 11, 2008 accusing 22 people, including
former deputy minister of BNP-Jamaat alliance government Abdus Salam Pintu
and 21 HuJI leaders and workers.

Later on July 3 in 2012, Criminal Investigation Department (CID) submitted
two separate supplementary charge sheets in the cases against 30 people after
a fresh investigation into the matter. With the 30 accused, the number of
charge accused in the cases rose to 52.

During the BNP-Jamaat regime, the investigators were trying to divert the
probe to a wrong direction to save the real culprits. Media reports brought
to public attention the cooked-up story of Joj Mia by the then CID officials
to derail the investigation.

The visible attempt to frustrate the case by the then BNP-led regime
prompted the subsequent interim government to order a fresh investigation
into the case.

 

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