Slow pace of trial worries all
Anisul Huq expects verdict soon
Published : Sunday, 21 August, 2016 at 2:07 AM Count : 1152
Although a decade has elapsed since the gruesome grenade blast took place in the capital on August 21in 2004 statements of only half of the witnesses in the trial of the sensational case has been recorded.
However, Law Minister Anisul Huq said on Saturday that the verdict of the grenade attack case is expected shortly as the trial is at its concluding stage. Annisul Huq came up with the comment while speaking as chief guest at a voluntary blood donation programme on the occasion of the National Mourning Day organized by the Attorney General's Office.
The investigator of the case told the Daily Observer on Saturday that the grenade attack was particularly planned by some high ranking persons of the then BNP-led government.
The grenade attack was carried out on an Awami League rally on Bangabandhu Avenue to kill the then opposition leader Sheikh Hasina. Hasina is now the Prime Minister of the country. But 24 leaders and activists, including late president Zillur Rahman's wife Ivy Rahman, were killed and over 500 others injured. Sheikh Hasina, survived the attack narrowly because some of her party leaders protected her by forming a human shield around her.
Chief State counsel of the case, Syed Rezaur Rahman told this correspondent that their target was to have the trial completed by trial court in a short span of time. Two cases were filed in connection with the August 21 grenade attack. One a murder case with 52 people named accused and another explosive case accusing 41 people, he said. The court could record statements of 223 witnesses till August 2016 out of 491 witnesses in the case, he added.
"The case will take another decade to dispose of, if the pace of the trial remains the same," a lawyer said and added the huge number of accused in the two cases is one of the major cause for the slow progress of the trial.
The BNP-led 18-party alliance government had staged "a Joj Miah drama" to subvert the investigation. Joj Miah, a petty criminal, was implicated in the cases and the then CID obtained his 'confessional statement' in 2005.
Things took a different turn during the past Fakhruddin Ahmed-led caretaker government. A new CID official was given charge in July of 2007 for fresh investigation into the carnage. The CID submitted charge sheet on June 11 of 2008 accusing 22 persons, including Huji leader Mufti Hannan and former deputy minister of the BNP government Abdus Salam Pintu. The charge sheet hinted at the involvement of some government and security high ups in the plot.
After AL came to power the prosecution filed a petition on June 22 of 2009 with the court for further investigation to identify the suppliers of Arges grenades and sources of financing. The court on August 3 of 2009 ordered further investigation. Then a new CID official was assigned to do the job.
In the hearing, the court ordered CID for further investigation and after the investigation the CID on July 2 of 2011 submitted supplementary charge sheet against Tarique Rahman, Babar, Jamaat-e-Islami Secretary General Ali Ahsan Muhammad Mojaheed and 28 others.
According to the supplementary charge sheet the grisly attack was an outcome of collaboration between the militant outfit Huji, a section of influential leaders of the BNP and the Jamaat-e-Islami, and a section of senior officials of the Home Ministry, police, Directorate General of Forces Intelligence (DGFI), National Security Intelligence (NSI) and Prime Minister's Office (PMO).
Lutfozzaman Babar, the then state minister for home affairs, Harris Chowdhury, political secretary to then prime minister Khaleda Zia, Ali Ahsan Mohammad Mojaheed, secretary general of Jamaat-e-Islami and the then social welfare minister, NSI director general Brig Gen Abdur Rahim and DGFI director Brig Gen Rezzaqul Haider Chowdhury masterminded the attack, according to the supplementary charge sheet. Involvement of Tarique Rahman was also alleged in the supplementary charge sheet.
According to the supplementary charge sheet of the case, Huji leader Tajuddin, supplier of the grenades, and brother of BNP government's deputy minister Abdus Salam Pintu, was allowed to leave the country for Pakistan on instructions from Lutfozzaman Babar. The then PM Khaleda Zia was aware of this, according to the charge sheet.
Tajuddin was provided with a fake passport with the name "Badal." Khaleda's nephew and private secretary Saiful Islam Duke, his brother-in-law and DGFI official Lt Col Saiful Islam Joarder and another DGFI high-up Maj Gen ATM Amin helped Tajuddin flee the country on October 10 of 2006, at the fag-end of the BNP rule, said the supplementary charge sheet in March 2011.
Nineteen of the 52 accused, including Tarique Rahman, have remained fugitive from justice in a case while 24 others, including Babar, Pintu and Mojaheed are now in jail. Eight others, including BNP leader Ariful Islam Arif and Saiful Islam Duke, nephew of BNP Chairperson Khaleda Zia, are free on bail.
Law enforcing agencies believe they are abroad. One of the accused, Maulana Tajuddin, has an Interpol red notice on him. Another two accused -- 'Mursalin' and 'Muttakim' -- are in Indian jail, according to the investigation officer.
A CID source said former MP Mofazzal Hossain Kaikobad was in Thailand, Hanif Paribahan owner 'Hanif' was in India, ATM Amin in the US, Saiful Islam Joardar in Canada, and Babul alias Ratul Babu was in India.
Others absconding include Khaleda's former political secretary Haris Chowdhury, Shafiqur Rahman, Mufti Abdul Hye, Maulana Abu Bakar, 'Iqbal', Khalilur Rahman, Jahangir Alam Badar, Maulana Jubair alias Delowar, Maulana Tajul Islam, former police officer Obaidur Rahman and Khan Sayed Hasan.
Twenty-five of the accused, including, former state minister for home Lutfozzaman Babar, former state minister Abdus Salam Pintu, Harkatul Jihad leader Mufti Abdul Hannan, are in jail. Another accused former minister and Jamaat-e-Islami Secretary General Ali Ahsan Mohammad Mojaheed was hanged for crime against humanity.
Eight of the accused are on bail including Khaleda's nephew Saiful Islam Duke, former police chiefs Md Ashraful Huda, Shahidul Huq, and Khoda Baksh Chowdhury. The first three investigation officers of the case -- CID special superintendent Ruhul Amin, and two ex-CID ASPs Munshi Atiqur Rahman and Abdur Rashid -- and former DCC ward commissioner Ariful Islam, too, are on bail.
Those killed in the barbaric grenade attack included Ivy Rahman, opposition leader's personal security guard Lance Corporal (Retd) Mahbubur Rashid, Abul Kalam Azad, Rezina Begum, Nasir Uddin Sardar, Atique Sarkar, Abdul Kuddus Patwari, Aminul Islam Moazzem, Belal Hossain, Mamun Mridha, Ratan Shikdar, Liton Munshi, Hasina Mamtaz Reena, Sufia Begum, Rafiqul Islam (Ada Chacha), Mostaque Ahmed Sentu, Md Hanif, Abul Kashem, Zahed Ali, Momen Ali, M Shamsuddin and Ishaque Miah.
Prominent among those who suffered serious splinter injuries included Sheikh Hasina, Amir Hossain Amu, Abdur Razzak (deceased), Suranjit Sengupta, Obaidul Quader, Advocate Sahara Khatun, Mohammad Hanif (deceased), Prof Abu Sayeed, AFM Bahauddin Nasim, Nazrul Islam Babu, Awlad Hossain, Sayeed Khokon, Mahbuba Parvin, Advocate Umme Razia Kajol, Nasima Ferdous, Shahida Tarek Dipti, Rasheda Akhter Ruma, Hamida Khanam Moni, Engr Selim, Ruma Islam, Kazi Moazzem Hossain and Mamun Mallick.