Babar, Salam 17 others to die; Tarique 18 more get life term

Babar, Salam 17 others to die; Tarique 18 more get life term

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Dhaka, Oct 10 – Former State Minister Lutfozzaman Babar and 18 others were on Wednesday convicted and sentenced to death while BNP acting Chief Tarique Rahman and 18 others were sentenced to life term imprisonment in two cases filed over the August 21 grenade attack of 2004. Besides, the remaining 11 accused were also convicted and were sentenced to different terms of imprisonment.Judge Shahed Nur Uddin of the Speedy Trial Tribunal-1 of Dhaka begun reading out the verdict at 11.40 am on Wednesday at the makeshift court set up at Old Dhaka’s Nazimuddin Road Central Jail amid
tightened security.
The death sentenced other 18 convicts are: former Deputy Minister Abdus Salam Pintu, DGFI’s former Director General (Retired) Brigadier General Abdur Rahim, Moulana Sheikh Abdus Salam, Md Abdul Majead Bhat alias Md Yusuf Bhat, Abdul Malek alias Golam Mohammad alias GM, Moulana Shawkot Osman alias Sheikh Farid, Mohibullah alias Mofizur Rahman alias Ovi, Moulana Abu Sayed alias Dr Zafar, Abul Kalam alias Bulbul, M Zahangir Alam, Hafez Moulana Abu Taher, Husain Ahmed Tamim, Moin Uddin Sheikh alias Mufti Moin alias Khaja alias Abu Zandal alias Masum Billah, Md Rafiqul Islam alias Shabuj alias Khalid Saifullah alias Shamim alias Rashed and Md Ujjal alias Raton.
Death-sentenced two fugitives are- Abdus Salam Pintu’s brother and militant leader Moulana Md Tajuddin and Hanif Paribahan’s proprietor Md Hanif.
Besides, Tareque other 18 life-term convicts are: Haris Chowdhury, former MP Kaikobad, Shahadat Ullah alias Jewel (Present), Moulana Abdur Rouf alias Abu Omar Abu Homaira alias Pir Shaheb (Present), Moulana Sabbir Ahmad alias Abdul Hannan Sabbir (Present), Arif Hasan alias Sujan alias Abdur Rajjak (Present), Hafez Moulana Yahia (Present), Abu Bakr alias Hafej Salim Howledar (Present), Md Ariful Islam alias Arif (Present), Mohibul Mottakin alias Mottakin (Fugitive), Anisul Morsalin alias Morsalin (Fugitive), Md Khalil (Fugitive), Zahangir Alam Badar alias Ostad Zahangir (Fugitive), Md Iqbal (Fugitive), Liton alias Moulana Liton (Fugitive), Hariss Chowdhury (Fugitive), Mufti Shafiqur Rahman (Fugitive), Mufti Abdul Hai (Fugitive) and Ratul Ahmmad Babu alias Babu alias Ratul Babu (Fugitive).
“They (who were sentenced to death) shall be hanged by the neck until they are dead,” Judge Shahed Nuruddin of Dhaka’s Speedy Trial Tribunal delivered the verdict in a jam-packed courtroom in presence of 31 out of 49 accused in two cases filed following the deadly incident in 2004.
Neither the prosecution team nor the defence side was happy with the verdict as both of them vowed to move with the higher court against the verdict.
The members of law enforcers’ agencies have taken pool proof security in and around the tribunal area from the morning ahead of the verdict.
Law enforcing members, journalists and lawyers started to enter into the courtroom from 9.00am and it was jam-packed at 11.20 just after producing the accused persons into the courtroom.
The judge entered the sardine-packed courtroom at 11.38 am and leaving the courtroom at 12.22 pm after delivering the judgment of the two cases.
The judge took more than half an hour in delivering the verdict of the two cases. But, within half an hour the electricity has gone for two times leaving the courtroom in darkness. But, the judge started to
deliver the verdict taking assistance from a mobile light and later took assistance from a torchlight.
In the operational part of the copy of the verdict, the judge made a 14-point observation on the background, motive, and consequences of the attack and whether there was same motive by the accused to commit the incident.
The court also took 14 legal aspects into considerations while convicting the accused.
The court said that the prosecution was able to prove the allegations brought against the accused beyond reasonable doubt. Hence, the court found all the 49 guilty in the cases.
The court awarded 19 to death under section 34, 120 (kha), 302, 303 and 304 of the Penal Code while it sentenced 19 other to life term imprisonment under the same section of the penal code and different
jail terms to the rest 11 for the attack that killed 24 people and wounded some 500 others, crippling some of them for life.
The court sentenced former chiefs of police Md Ashraful Huda, Khoda Bukhsh Chowdhury and Shahudul Haque, and DIG Khan Sayeed Hasan, SP (retd) Ruhul Amin, ASP (retd) Abdur Rashid, ASP (retd) Munshi Atikur Rahman, Md Obaidur Rahman Khan, Khaleda Zia’s nephew Saiful Islam Deuke, Major General ATM Amin, to two-year-imprisonment and fined them Taka 50,000 each under section 218 of the penal code. They have to suffer six-month imprisonment in default.
The court also sentenced former IGP Khoda Bukhsh Chowdhury, SP (retd) Ruhul Amin, ASP (retd) Abdur Rashid and ASP (retd) Munshi Atikur Rahman to three-year imprisonment and fined them Taka 50,000 each under section 330 of the penal code.
The sentencing under sections 218 and 330 will run concurrently.
As soon as the judgment was delivered, police whisked off the convicts in the courtroom to prison vans outside to be brought back to suburban Kashimpur Central Jail under heavy security escorts.
Before leaving the courtroom, Lutfuzzaman Babar told this correspondent that he was not involved with the incident. But, the government included his name in the case with a malafide intention and politically motivated.
“I was not aware of the incident. I was not involved with the incident. My name was involved with politically motivated intention as I did not mention the name of Khaleda Zia and Tarique Rahman as per the advice of authorities given to me,” he said.
In response to a query, the former state minister for home said, “I am seeking justice from Allah.”
In an immediate reaction, Chief Persecutor Syed Rezaur Rahman denied commenting whether they are satisfied or not with the verdict, saying, “We don’t say anything about it just now as the formal reaction will be made public after conducting a thorough scrutiny of the verdict. If necessary, we will go to the higher court for expansion of sentences (of some accused).”
Advocate Moshrraf Hossain Kazal, another prosecutor said, “BNP’s acting chairman Tarique Rahman was sentenced to lifetime imprisonment in both the murder and explosives cases. But, he and some others deserved the death penalty as he had masterminded the attack. After scrutinising the verdict, we will file an appeal with the High Court for extension of his punishment,” he added.
Defence lawyer advocate SM Shahjahan expressed dissatisfaction over the verdict saying that they were denied to get justice.
“We will file an appeal with the High Court after receiving the certified copy of the verdict and hope that we would get justice there,” he said.
Following the grenade attack, Faruk Hossain, the then sub-inspector of Motijheel police station, had filed two cases on August 22, 2004—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 the statements of 61
witnesses.
After 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 eight accused were out on bail. On September 18, the court cancelled their bail and ordered their confinement in jail with due facilities they deserved under the law. Hence, the number of accused in jail currently stands at 31, who were received in various term of imprisonment including the death penalty.
In the broad daylight of August 21, 2004, alleged Islamic militants launched the heinous grenade attack on a rally of the then opposition Awami League at Bangabandhu Avenue in Dhaka.
The attack was carried out according to a plan hatched by some high ranking persons of the then BNP-led Government who allegedly conspired to annihilate their (alleged) political rivals, including their
main target Awami League Chief Sheikh Hasina.
However, the plot was not successful to kill Sheikh Hasina. She narrowly survived the attack. Some of her party leaders protected her by for a Human shield around her. However, 24 people were killed, including Mohila Awami League Secretary Ivy Rahman, and over 400 were injured in the attack. Sheikh Hasina escaped the attack with an ear injury.
Two cases were filed – one for murder and another under the Explosive Substances Act.
The then BNP-led Government formed a one-member judicial inquiry commission led by a High Court Judge. Besides, the US Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) visited Dhaka to probe the grenade attack.
But, a few months later, senior CID officials made an allegedly farcical Joy Mia story. They detained Joj Mia along with 20 other petty criminals. Joj and two others were forced to give false confessions.
After the caretaker administration took over, the CID submitted two separate charge sheets in June 2007, accusing 22 persons including Mufti Hannan and Abdus Salam Pintu. The charge sheet hints at the
involvement of some high-level government and security officials in the plot.
The trial began after charges were framed against them in October that the court recorded testimonies of 61 prosecution witnesses.
During the trial, three accused including Jamaat leader and a minister Ali Ahsan Mohammad Mojahid and other two were hanged after they were convicted in murder cases.
About 18 fugitives, the court issued a warrant of arrests against them.
Their punishment will be implemented after their arrest or their surrender to the court. Besides, the death sentences of the convicts will be implemented after their sentences are confirmed by the High Court Division of the Supreme Court. – Special Correspondent

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