DHAKA : When the nation is set to observe on Monday the 13th anniversary of the barbaric grenade attacks during the BNP-Jamaat alliance regime in 2004, 19 charge-sheeted accused in the August 21 carnage cases are still on the run, reports BSS.
“We have taken legal and diplomatic measures to bring back 19 fugitive accused as locations of many of them have already been traced,” Home Minister Asaduzzaman Khan told BSS.
Fifty-two people were accused in separate charge sheets in two cases-one for murder and another under the explosives act-over the August 21 grenade attacks in which 24 Awami League leaders and activists were killed and over 500 others were injured.
“Nineteen among the 52 charge-sheeted accused, including BNP senior vice-chairman Tarique Rahman, were shown fugitives,” Special Public Prosecutor (APP) Advocate Mosharraf Hossain Kazol, dealing with the cases, told BSS this afternoon.
Eight are on the bail while 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 and the remaining others are now in different jails, he said.
Asked about the latest condition of trial in the cases, the lawyer expressed his hope to complete the trial well before the end of the current year (2017) as they have already completed taking testimonies of 225 prosecution witnesses and 13 defense witnesses.
“We will take testimonies of 10 to 12 more defense witnesses in the cases. After completion of the testimonies, argument on legal points will be kicked off and then the verdict will be delivered. The whole process will end well before the end of this year,” he continued.
The list of the 19 fugitive accused has been forwarded to the Interpol seeking help to capture them as they are believed to be hiding in different countries.
Of the 19 fugitive accused, Tarique Rahman is now staying in London while Shah Mofazzal Hossain Kaikobad is believed to live in Saudi Arabia, owner of Hanif Enterprise Mohammad Hanif is in Kolkata while Maj Gen (retd) ATM Amin in America, Lt Col (retd) Saiful Islam Joarder in Canada, Babu alias Ratul Babu in India, Anisul Morsalin and his brother Mohibul Muttakin in an Indian jail and Maulana Tajul Islam in South Africa, intelligence sources said.
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, adding that most of them are believed to be in Pakistan.
But there is no trace of another accused Harris Chowdhury. Of the fugitives, Maulana Tajuddin and Babu are brothers of the detained former deputy minister of the BNP government Abdus Salam Pintu, who is also a charge sheeted accused in the August 21 grenade attack case.
The heinous attack was carried out on an anti-terrorism rally of the then main opposition party, Awami League (AL), aimed at killing the front ranking leaders including its president and incumbent Premier Sheikh Hasina to eliminate the party leaderships.
A total of 24 AL leaders and workers, including the then Mohila Awami League President and late President Zillur Rahman’s wife Ivy Rahman, were killed and 500 others were injured. Sheikh Hasina and the front ranking leaders escaped the carnage narrowly.
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.
Of the 52 charge-sheeted accused, former BNP government’s state minister for home Lutfozzaman Babar and former deputy minister Abdus Salam Pintu are now in jails while Harkatul Jihad chief Mufti Abdul Hannan has been hanged in the another case of terrorism.
Former inspector general of police (IGPs) Ashraful Huda, Shahudul Haque and Khoda Baksh Chowdhury and three former investigation officers of the cases, former SP Ruhul Amin of CID, former ASPs of CID Atiqur Rahman and Abdur Rashid are on the bail.