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19 September, 2018 00:00 00 AM
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Aug 21 grenade attack cases

Verdict Oct 10

STAFF REPORTER
Verdict Oct 10

In a major development, a Dhaka court yesterday (Tuesday) fixed October 10 for delivering its verdict in connection with cases filed over the August 21, 2004 grenade attack. In a jam-packed courtroom, Judge Shahed Nuruddin of Dhaka Speedy Trial Tribunal 1 fixed the date after completing the closing arguments from both sides. On August 21, 2004, a grenade attack was carried out on an anti-terrorism rally of the Awami League (AL) to kill the party’s front-ranking leaders, including Sheikh Hasina. As many as 24 people, including then Mohila Awami League president Ivy Rahman, were killed and 500 were injured. Sheikh Hasina and several senior leaders had a narrow escape. Fourteen years after the gruesome incident, the tribunal completed its proceedings yesterday and set the date for delivering its verdict.

Before fixing the date, the tribunal said that after a long time the trial proceedings of the cases are nearing completion. All legal facilities have been provided to the defence and prosecution during the trial proceedings. The court did not try to keep any gap in the proceedings. The trial proceedings of the cases are being completed and the court has to come up with the verdict of the cases, it added.

After completion of final arguments, the tribunal cancelled the bail of eight accused, including three former inspectors general of police, and ordered them to be sent to jail.

Their bail was cancelled on consideration that it might create problems when the verdict is delivered, the tribunal said.

During the final arguments, the prosecution team sought the highest punishment for the accused persons, while the defence lawyers sought acquittal orders from the tribunal. In the whole proceedings, the tribunal took a total of 119 days for hearing from both sides in connection with the two cases——one filed for murder and another lodged under the Explosive Substances Act.

The tribunal recorded the statements of 225 witnesses, out of the total of 491 witnesses, in both cases.

Talking to reporters, chief prosecutor Syed Rezaur Rahman hoped that the tribunal would give the highest punishment for the accused persons.

“The gruesome attack was carried out to destroy the Awami League and its leadership, including Sheikh Hasina. We have been able to prove the allegations brought against the accused persons beyond reasonable doubt. We hope that the tribunal will award the highest punishment to the offenders,” Rahman said. On the other hand, defence lawyer advocate SM Shahjahan hoped that the tribunal would acquit the accused persons.

“There is no documentary evidence against the accused persons. The court cannot punish them on the basis of mere suspicion,” Shahjahan said. At least 24 people were killed and around 500 injured in the grisly attack on an Awami League rally at the capital’s Bangabandhu Avenue on August 21, 2004. Sheikh Hasina, the then opposition leader in Parliament, narrowly escaped with an ear injury.

Following the incident, Faruk Hossain, then sub-inspector of Motijheel police station, had on August 22, 2004 filed two cases—one under the Explosive Substances Act and the other for murder.

On June 9, 2008, the CID had pressed charges against BNP leader Abdus Salam Pintu, Harkat-ul-Jihad al-Islami (Huji) chief Mufti Abdul Hannan and 20 others for the grenade attack.

The trial began in 2008 during the caretaker government and the court recorded statements of 61 witness.

The AL formed the government in 2009 and submitted petitions on August 3, 2009 for further investigation into the cases. Following the plea, the court ordered the CID to carry out the probe.

On July 3, 2011, the CID submitted supplementary charge-sheets against 30 people, including BNP senior vice-chairman Tarique Rahman, former state minister for home Lutfozzaman Babar, BNP leader Harris Chowdhury and Jamaat-e-Islami leader Ali Ahsan Mohammad Mujahid.

Following the supplementary charge-sheet, the number of accused persons stood at 52 in two cases and the trial against them is being held simultaneously with Dhaka’s Speedy Trial Tribunal-1 at the makeshift court at a building near the Dhaka Central Jail gate.

On March 18, 2012, the court framed charges against 52 people, including Tarique Rahman in the cases.

Among the 52 accused, the trial in absentia of 18 accused, including Tarique, had begun, while three other accused, including Mufti Abdul Hannan, and Jamaat leader Ali Ahsan Mujahid have been executed in other cases. The 23 accused, including former state minister Lutfuzzaman Babar and former deputy minister Abdus Salam Pintu, are in jail. The rest of the 8 accused were on bail. But the court yesterday cancelled their bail. So, the number of accused in jail now stands at 31.

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Editor : M. Shamsur Rahman

Published by the Editor on behalf of Independent Publications Limited at Media Printers, 446/H, Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1215.
Editorial, News & Commercial Offices : Beximco Media Complex, 149-150 Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1208, Bangladesh. GPO Box No. 934, Dhaka-1000.

Editor : M. Shamsur Rahman
Published by the Editor on behalf of Independent Publications Limited at Media Printers, 446/H, Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1215.
Editorial, News & Commercial Offices : Beximco Media Complex, 149-150 Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1208, Bangladesh. GPO Box No. 934, Dhaka-1000.

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