“We are giving all possible efforts to complete the trial in the August 21, 2004 grenade attack cases, at the quickest possible time, as the trial is now at the final stage,” Chief Prosecutor in the cases Advocate Syed Rezaur Rahman told BSS today.
Prosecution side has been trying to complete the trial by August this year, he said, adding that they have failed to do this as the defense has deliberately killed times following various techniques.
Asked about the latest situation of trial in the cases, the senior lawyer said, “Deposition of 225 prosecution witnesses have so far been completed while 20 people gave statements in favour of the accused.” “Former State Minister for BNP Lutfuzzaman Babar is giving statement to the court in favour of him for six consecutive days today. Babar will also give statement on Tuesday and Wednesday,” he continued.
The heinous attack was carried out on an anti-terrorism rally Awami League on August 21 in 2004, aimed at killing the front ranking leaders including its President and then Opposition Leader Sheikh Hasina to eliminate the party leaderships.
A total of 24 AL leaders and workers including the then Mohila Awami League President and wife of late President Zillur Rahman, Ivy Rahman, were killed and 500 others were injured. Sheikh Hasina and the front ranking leaders escaped the carnage narrowly.
Two cases-one for murder and another under explosive substances act– were lodged with Motijheel Police Station the next day.
Criminal Investigation Department (CID) senior ASP Fazlul Kabir on June 11, 2008, filed the charge sheet in the case against 22 people including chief of Bangladesh chapter of militant outfit Harkat-ul Jihad-al-Islami (HuJI) Mufti Abdul Hannan.
Dhaka Speedy Trial Tribunal-1 on August 3, 2009, ordered further investigation, accepting a plea of the prosecution.
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.
The government has been trying to bring back 18 fugitives in the cases to the country through Interpol, he informed.
“Eighteen out of 52 charge-sheeted accused in the August 21, 2004 grenade attack cases, have been shown fugitives, eight are on bail and 26 others are now in different jails,” said Syed Rezaur Rahma .
Intelligence sources however said, the most wanted accused in the cases, BNP Senior Vice Chairman and elder son of detained former Prime Minister Begum Khaleda Zia, Tarique Rahman is now staying in London, Maulana Tajuddin Ahmed and his younger brother Ratul Babu have been hiding in South Africa.
Former BNP MP Kazi Mofazzal Hossain Kaikobad has been hiding in Saudi Arabia and Haris Chowdhury moved through United Kingdom, Malaysia, Singapore, USA and India.
One of the key accused in the cases, former minister and Jamaat-e-Islami secretary general Ali Ahsan Mohammad Mojaheed was hanged to death in a case of crime against humanity during the War of Liberation in 1971 while the banned militant outfit Harkatul Jihad chief Mufti Abdul Hannan and Shahidul Alam Bipul were hanged in the another case of terrorism.
Two other major suspects-former major general ATM Amin and former Lt Colonel Saiful Islam Joarder are now staying in Dubai. Besides, Mohibul Mustakin and his brother Anisul Mursalin are now in Tihar Jail in India. Militant leaders Shafikur Rahman, Mufti Abdul Hai, Maulana Abu Bakar, Iqbal, Khalilur Rahman, Jahangir Alam alias Badar, Maulana 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.
Of the high profile accused in the case, former state minister for home affairs Lutfuzzaman Babar, former deputy minister for information Abdus Salam Pintu are in jail.
Former top officials of police Ashraful Huda, Shahudul Haque, Khoda Boksh Chowdhury, SP Ruhul Amin, ASP Atikur Rahman and Abdur Rashid are on bail in the case.
According to the intelligence sources of the fugitives, Tarique Rahman is in London, Shah Mofazzal Hossain Kaikobad in the Middle East, Mohammad Hanif of Hanif Enterprise is in Kolkata, Major General (retd) ATM Amin in the USA, Lt Colonel (retd) Saiful Islam Joardar in Canada, Ratul Babu in India, Anisul Morsalin and Mohibul Mottakin are in Indian jail and Mawala Tazuddin is in South Africa.
Dhaka, 20 August (campuslive24.com)//IM