Aug 21 Grenade Attack Case Verdict
Babar, 18 others get death Tarique, 18 more life term
11 awarded various prison terms
A Tribunal in Dhaka has sentenced 19 people to death and as many to life term imprisonment, while 11 others were sentenced to various prison terms in the sensational August 21 Grenade Attack case on Wednesday, 14 years after the gruesome attack took place at Bangabandhu Avenue killing 24 people and injuring over 300 others.
State minister for home affairs during the BNP-Jamaat government Lutfozzaman Babar, former deputy minister
Abdus Salam Pintu, former chief of National Security Intelligence (NSI) Maj Gen (Retd) Abdur Rahim and former chief of Directorate General of Forces Intelligence (DGFI), Brig Gen (Retd) Rezzakul Haider Chowdhury and 15 others were sentenced to death for killing 24 AL leaders and activists, including the Mahila Awami League president, Ivy Rahman, in 2004.
The judge also awarded life term imprisonment to acting Chairman of BNP, Tarique Rahman (fugitive), political secretary to the then prime minister Khaleda Zia, Harris Chowdhury (fugitive), former BNP lawmaker Kazi Shah Mofazzal Hossain Kaikobad (fugitive) and 16 others for plotting to kill 24 AL men in the rally.
Three former IGPs (Inspectors General of Police) Md Ashraful Huda, Shahudul Haque, Khoda Baksh Chowdhury and former DGFI chief ATM Amin (fugitive) and eight other government officials were given different jail terms for harbouring and protecting criminals and concealing evidences.
Judge Shahed Nuruddin of Speedy Trial Tribunal (STT)-1, temporarily set up adjacent to old Dhaka Central Jail at Nazimuddin Road, delivered the judgement in a crowded court room around 11:30 am on Wednesday amid heightened security.
In an instant reaction after the judgement former state minister Lutfozzaman Babar, standing on the dock, told this correspondent, "Only Allah knows if I am guilty or not."
After the judgement the Chief Prosecutor of the cases, also the country's veteran lawyer, Adv Syed Rezaur Rahman in a reaction told this correspondent, "We got the expected judgement. But after we get the certified copies of the judgement we shall decide which part of it we should appeal against."
Another prosecution team member Adv Akramuddin Shymol in a reaction said he is not completely satisfied with the judgement.
Through the pronouncement of the judgement after a long wait of 14 years the country's first ever gruesome grenade attack on an opposition political rally with the aim of killing the then opposition leader, now Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, was disposed off.
The Judge read out significant parts of the verdicts in the two cases in a crowded court room around 11:30am.
Earlier, 31 accused including Babar, Pintu, Rahim and Rezzakul were produced before the makeshift court from old Dhaka central jail in tight security.
The 15 other death row convicts are Maulana Tajuddin (fugitive), Maulana Sheikh Abdu Salam, Pakistani militant Abdul Mazed Bhatt alias Yousuf Bhatt, Pakistan-based militant outfits Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) activist Abdul Malek alias Golam Mohammad alias GM, Harkat ul-Jihad-i-Islami (HUJI) members Maulana Shawkat Osman alias Sheikh Farid, Mohibullah alias Mafizur Rahman alias Ovi (Mufti Hannan's brother), Maulana Abu Sayeed alias Dr Abu Zafar, Abul Kalam Azad alias Bulbul, Jahangir Alam, Hafez Maulana Abu Taher, Hossain Ahmed Tamim, Mufti Moinuddin Sheikh alias Mufti Moin alias Khaza alias Abu Zandal alias Masum Billah, Rafiqul Islam alias Sabuj alias Khalid Saifullah alias Shamim alias Rashed, Mohammad Ujjal alias Ratan and Mohammad Hanif (fugitive), the owner of Hanif Paribahan.
The court also fined 19 death row convicts Tk 100,000 each.
The court convicted them under section 302/ 120(B) and 34 of Bangladesh Penal Code. The 17 other life term rigorous imprisonment convicts are HUJI activists Shahadatullah alias Jewel, Maulana Abdur Rouf alias Abu Omar Abu Homaira alias Pir Shaheb, Maulana Shabbir Ahmed alias Abdul Hannan Shabbir, Arif Hasan alias Sumon alias Abdur Razzak, Hafez Maulana Yahya, Abu Bakar alias Hafez Selim Howlader, Ariful Islam Arif, former BNP Commissioner Ward No 53 of Dhaka City Corporation, Mahibul Muttakin alias Muttakin (fugitive), Anisul Mursalin alias Mursalin (fugitive), Md Khalil (fugitive), Jahangir Alam Badar (fugitive), Md Iqbal (fugitive), Liton alias Maulana Liton alias Delwar Hossain alias Jubaer (fugitive), Mufti Shafiqur Rahman (fugitive), Mufti Abdul Hai (fugitive) and Ratul Ahmed Babu alias Babu alias Ratul Babu (fugitive). The court also fined Tk 50,000 each and in default to suffer one year more imprisonment.
The court punished then under section 302/ 120(B) and 34 of the Bangladesh Penal Code. Besides this the court also sentenced all the 38 accused including acting Chairman of BNP, Tarique Rahman to life term rigorous imprisonment for severely injuring the victims in the grenade attack.
The two former IGPs, Ashraful Huda and Shahudul Haque, were awarded four years' imprisonment and fined Tk 100,000 each under section 212 and 217 of the Bangladesh Penal Code. Former DGFI chief Maj Gen (Retd) ATM Amin, Lt Comdr (Retd) Saiful Islam Duke, also nephew of Khaleda Zia and Lt Comdr (Retd) Saiful Islam Joarder were sentenced to four years' imprisonment under section 212 and 217 of the Bangladesh Penal Code.
Former DC (South) of DMP Khan Sayeed Hassan and former deputy commissioner (East) of DMP Obaidur Rahman Khan were also jailed for six years and fined Tk 150,000 each under section 212 and 217 of the Bangladesh Penal Code.
Former IGP Khoda Baksh Chowdhury, former SP Ruhul Amin and former ASPs of CID Atiqur Rahman and Abdur Rashid were given a total of five years in prison and fined Tk 100,000 each under section 218 and 330 of the Bangladesh Penal Code.
In another case filed under Explosive Substances Act, all the 19 death row convicts above mentioned were given death penalty in the case.
And acting Chairman of BNP, Tarique Rahman and 18 others were also given life term imprisonment and fined Tk 50,000 each.
After 1,754 court working days, on September 18, Judge Shahed Nuruddin of Speedy Trial Tribunal (STT)-1 of Dhaka temporarily set up adjacent to old Dhaka Central Jail at Nazimuddin Road fixed the day of delivery of judgement in the grenade attack cases.
A total 119 days were needed to hear the arguments of both the prosecution and defence sides in the sensational cases.
In the final arguments Chief Prosecutor of the cases, also the country's veteran lawyer Adv Syed Rezaur Rahman appealed to the court for awarding the highest punishment as per law to all the accused who were involved in committing the gruesome attack as the prosecutor claimed that the prosecution team was able to prove the case beyond doubt.
On the other hand defence lawyers argued before the court that the prosecution team was not able to prove the case and they submitted a prayer to acquit the accused.
A total of 225 prosecution witnesses out 491 and 20 defence witnesses testified in the trial.
On the last day of arguments, the court cancelled the bail of eight accused following a prayer of the prosecution and ordered to send them to jail.
The accused whose bail were cancelled are former IGPs Ashraful Huda, Shahudul Haque and Khoda Baksh Chowdhury, three former Criminal Investigation Department officials -- SP Ruhul Amin, former CID ASPs Munshi Atiqur Rahman and Abdur Rashid, former Dhaka City Corporation Ward Commissioner Ariful Islam Arif and Lt Commander (retd) Saiful Islam Duke, also nephew of BNP Chairperson Khaleda Zia.
On August 22, a day after the incident, Sub Inspector Faruk Hossain, Awami League leader (late) Abdul Jalil and Saber Hossain Chowdhury filed three cases with Motijheel Police Station in this connection.
After a caretaker government came to power on June 11 in 2008, the Senior ASP of CID Fazlul Kabir submitted two charge sheets accusing 22 people, including HUJI leader Mufti Hannan and former deputy minister Abdus Salam Pintu.
The court framed charges against 22 people on October 29 in 2008 and recorded statements of 61 witnesses.
The court on August 12 in 2009 ordered further investigation in the cases during the trial following the prosecution's plea.
New investigation officer and Special Superintendant of Police of CID Abdul Kahar Akand on July 3 in 2011 submitted two separate supplementary charge sheets, one for murder and another under Explosive Substances Act, accusing 30 more people, including BNP senior vice chairman Tarique Rahman, with this the number of accused stood at 52.
On March 18 in 20018, the trial court framed charges against the accused of supplementary charge sheet and ordered to begin trial again.
Two prime accused former Jamaat secretary general Ali Ahsan Mohammad Mojaheed has been hanged in crimes against humanity case, while Mufti Hannan and his associate Shahidul Alam Bipul have also been executed for 2004 grenade attack at Shahjalal Shrine in Sylhet and their names have been dropped from the case.
During the BNP-Jamaat rule the investigators tried to turn the probe to a wrong direction by staging a Joj Miah drama.
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, retired Maj Gen ATM Amin in the USA, retired Lt Col Saiful Islam Joardar in Canada, Ratul Babu in India, Anisul Morsalin and Mohibul Mottakin are in Indian jail and Mawlana Tajuddin is in South Africa.
BNP Acting Chairman Tarique Rahman was sentenced to seven years imprisonment and fined Tk 20 crore by the High Court on July 21 in 2016 overturning a lower court verdict that acquitted Tarique in the money laundering case involving Tk 20.41 crore. Another Dhaka Court on February 8 this year sentenced Tarique to ten years imprisonment and fined Tk 2.10 crore in Zia Orphanage Trust graft case.