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11 October, 2018 12:46:20 AM / LAST MODIFIED: 11 October, 2018 04:23:47 PM

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Babar, Pintu among 19 to die

Tarique, Harris, 17 others get life for Aug 21, 2004 grenade attack on AL rally
Muhammad Yeasin
Babar, Pintu among 19 to die

A Dhaka court yesterday awarded death sentence to 19 people, including former state minister for home Lutfozzaman Babar and ex-deputy minister Abdus Salam Pintu, and handed down life imprisonment to 19 others, including BNP vice-chairman Tarique Rahman, for the grenade attack on an Awami League (AL) rally on August 21, 2004.

With this verdict, the court finally brought down the curtain on a 14-year-long wait for justice. “They (who were sentenced to death) shall be hanged by the neck till death,” Judge Shahed Nuruddin of Dhaka’s speedy trial tribunal delivered the verdict in a jam-packed makeshift special court set up beside the former Dhaka Central Jail on Nazimuddin Road in old part of the capital.

The verdict was announced in the presence of 31 out of the 49 accused in two cases filed following the deadly incident that killed 24 people, including the then Mahila Awami League chief Ivy Rahman, and wounded over 500 others, crippling some of them for life.

Neither the prosecution team nor the defence side was happy with the verdict.

They vowed to move the higher court against the verdict.

Members of law enforcement agencies provided foolproof security in and around the tribunal area from the morning ahead of the verdict.

Law enforcers, journalists and lawyers started to enter the courtroom from 9am. The room was crammed full of people by 11.20am, just after the accused persons were produced.

The judge entered the room at 11.38am and left at 12.22pm after delivering the verdict in the two cases. He took just more than half an hour in delivering the verdict.

The courtroom faced power cuts twice within that short span of time. Even though the room became dark after each power cut, the judge seemed unperturbed and continued to deliver the verdict with the assistance of the light from a mobile phone and then from a torch.

In the operational part of the copy of the verdict, the judge made 14-point observations 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 judge said the prosecution was able to prove the allegations brought against the accused beyond any reasonable doubt. The court found all the 49 guilty in the two cases.

The court awarded the death sentence to 19 of the accused to under Sections 34, 120 (kha), 302, 303 and 304 of the Penal Code. It sentenced 19 others to life-term imprisonment under the same section of the penal code. It also handed down different jail terms to 11 persons for the attack.

The death penalty convicts are: Lutfuzzaman Babar, Abdus Salam Pintu, Mawlana Tajuddin, Maj. Gen. (retd) Rezzakul Haider Chowdhury and Brig. Gen. Abdur Rahim, transport operator Md Hanif, militants Mawlana Sheikh Abdus Salam, Abdul Mazed Bhat, Abdul Malek, Shawkat Osman, Mohibullah, Abu Sayeed, Abul Kalam Azad, Jahangir Alam, Hafez Abu Taher, Hossain Ahammed Tamim, Moin Uddin Sheikh, Rafikul Islam, Md Uzzal. All of them were also fined Tk. one lakh each, according to the court order.

Other than Tarique Rahman, the political figures who were handed down life-imprisonments are: Haris Chowdhury and Qazi Shah Mofazzal Hossain Kaikobad.

The others to serve the life-term in prison are: Shahadat Ullah alias Jewel, Abdur Rouf, Sabbir Ahmed, Arif Hasan, Hafez Yahia, Abu Bokor, Ariful Islam, Mohibul Muttakin, Anisul Mursalin, Mohammad Khalil, Jahangir Alam Badar, Mohammad Iqbal, Liton, Shafikur Rahman, Abdul Hai and Ratul Ahmed Babu. They were also fined Tk. 50,000 each in the murder case.

The court also sentenced Lutfuzzaman Babar, Abdus Salam Pintu, Mawlana Tajuddin, Major General (retd) Rezzakul Haider Chowdhury, Brigadier General Abdur Rahim, Md Hanif, Mawlana Sheikh Abdus Salam, Abdul Mazed Bhat, Abdul Malek, Mawlana Shawkat Osman, Mohibullah, Mawalana Abu Sayeed, Abul Kalam Azad, Md Jahangir Alam, Hafez Mawlana Abu Taher, Hossain Ahammed Tamim, Moin Uddin Sheikh, Md Rafikul Islam and Md Uzzal to 20 years in jail. It also fined them Tk. 50,000 each in the case lodged under Explosive Substances Act.

In the same case, the court sentenced Tarique Rahman, Haris Chowdhury, Qazi Shah Mofazzal Hossain Kaikobad, Mufti Shafikur Rahman, Mufti Abdul Hai, Shahadat Ullah, Mawlana Abdur Rouf, Mawlana Sabbir Ahmed, Arif Hasan, Hafez Mawlana Yahia, Abu Bokor, Ariful Islam Arif, Mohibul Muttakin, Anisul Mursalin, Md Khalil, Jahangir Alam Badar, Md Iqbal, Mawlana Liton, and Ratul Ahmed Babu to 20 years’ imprisonment. It also fined them Tk. 50,000 each.

“When the death-row convicts will walk the gallows, their 20-year terms wouldn’t be executed. Similarly, the life imprisonment and 20-year imprisonment will run concurrently,” the court said.

The court sentenced former chiefs of police Md Ashraful Huda, Khoda Bokhsh Chowdhury and Shahudul Haque, 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 and Maj. Gen. ATM Amin to two years in jail. It also fined them Tk. 50,000 each under Section 218 of the Penal Code. They have to suffer six-month imprisonment in default.

The court also handed down three-year jail terms to former IGP Khoda Bokhsh Chowdhury, SP (retd) Ruhul Amin, ASP (retd) Abdur Rashid and ASP (retd) Munshi Atikur Rahman. It also fined them Tk. 50,000 each under Section 330 of the Penal Code.

The sentences under Sections 218 and 330 will run concurrently.

As soon as the judgment was delivered, police whisked off the convicts to prison vans outside to brought them back to the 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 in a politically motivated way and with mala fide intention, he claimed.

“I was not aware of the incident. I was not involved in the incident. My name was included in this case as I did not mention the names of Khaleda Zia and Tarique Rahman as per the advice of the authorities,” he said.

In response to a query, the former state minister said: “I’m seeking justice from Allah.”

Chief persecutor Syed Rezaur Rahman said: “We don’t say anything about the verdict just now. Our formal reaction will be made public after we conduct a thorough scrutiny of the verdict. If necessary, we’ll go to the higher court for extension of the sentences of some accused.”

Advocate Moshrraf Hossain Kazal, another prosecutor, said: “Tarique Rahman was sentenced to lifetime imprisonment in both the murder and explosives cases. But he deserved the death penalty for masterminding the attack. After scrutnising the verdict, we’ll file an appeal with the High Court for extension of his punishment.”

Defence lawyer advocate SM Shahjahan expressed dissatisfaction over the verdict, saying that they were denied justice.

“We’ll file an appeal with the High Court (HC) after receiving the certified copy of the verdict. We hope that we would get justice there,” he added.

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 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 regime of a caretaker  government and the court recorded the statements of 61 witness.

The AL formed the government in 2009 and submitted petitions on August 3, 2009 for further investigation in 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 Tarique Rahman, Lutfozzaman Babar, Harris Chowdhury and Ali Ahsan Mohammad Mujahid.

Following the supplementary charge-sheet, the number of accused persons stood at 52 in the two cases and the trial against them was being held simultaneously with Dhaka’s speedy trial tribunal-1 at the makeshift court in 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, were executed in other cases.

The 23 accused, including Lutfuzzaman Babar and Abdus Salam Pintu, are in jail. The rest of the eight accused were out on bail. But on September 18, the court cancelled their bail and ordered their confinement in jail with due facilities. Hence, the number of accused in jail currently stands at 31, who received various terms of imprisonment including the death penalty.

SR

 

 

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Published by the Editor on behalf of Independent Publications Limited at Media Printers, 446/H, Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1215.
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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.

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