Detectives yesterday pressed charges against 18 people including eight employees of Biman Bangladesh Airlines in a case filed over the country's biggest ever haul of smuggled gold in 2013.
On July 24 that year, customs officials of Hazrat Shahjalal International Airport in the capital seized 1,064 gold bars weighing around 124kgs that had been left abandoned in the luggage chamber of a Biman flight.
After the recovery, the National Board of Revenue formed a probe committee to identify the smugglers.
During the investigation, one Milon Sikder, identifying himself as an agent of Nepalese Gourango, submitted an application for release of the gold bars through tax payment. That gave momentum to the search for smugglers.
Based on the customs' enquiry report, Md Mostafa Jamal, the then assistant revenue officer of customs, filed a case in December 2014 with Bimanbandar Police Station against 14 people, including 10 Biman employees.
When detectives were looking into the case, Milon, arrested over the gold smuggling, gave a confessional statement before a magistrate. He at the time named 25 people as involved in the smuggling.
Twelve more have been arrested so far in the case. One of them is now on bail. The court recently asked him to surrender.
Md Golam Saklain, of the Detective Branch of Dhaka Metropolitan Police, who is investigating the smuggling, submitted the charge sheet to the Dhaka Chief Metropolitan Magistrate Court against those arrested and five fugitives.
In the charge sheet, he said all the accused -- FIR-named, arrested and fugitive -- are members of an organised gold smuggling syndicate.
“They smuggled gold from different countries, through different airports including Hazrat Shahjalal International Airport, evading taxes.” The gang used to carry gold out of the airports using the airports' vehicles.
Saklain, assistant commissioner of the DB, appealed to the court to issue warrants for arrest of the fugitives who had gone into hiding just after the filing of the case.
The charge sheet doesn't mention three FIR-named accused as their actual addresses were not found during the DB probe. Supplementary charge sheets will be submitted if their correct addresses are known, the IO said in the charge sheet submitted yesterday.
Finally, the eight Biman employees, who are facing charges, are SM Kamrul Hasan, junior security officer; Abu Jafar, sweeping supervisor; Masudur Rahman, aircraft mechanic; Anis Uddin Bhuiyan, assistant aircraft mechanic; Mojibur Rahman Mojib, aircraft mechanic; Md Shahjahan Siraj alias Babul, senior inspection officer; Saleh Uddin, engineering officer, and Rayhan Ali, a Biman staff.
The other accused are Gourango Rosan, a Nepalese national and alleged owner of the seized gold bars; Milon Sikder, chairman of SS Cargo; Abdul Bareq Tarafdar, an agent of Gourango, and Gourango's accomplices Saleh Ahmed Khan, Manik Miah, Subrata Kumar Das alias Liton, SM Nurul Islam, Sirajul Islam, Saleh Ahmed and Jasim Uddin.
Of them, Gourango, Nurul Islam, Rayhan, Sirajul and Jasim are fugitives.
Asked about the delay in submitting the charge sheet, Shaikh Nazmul Alam, deputy commissioner of the DB, told The Daily Star it took time as customs filed the case more than a year after the incident, and since there is a foreign accused, information about him needed to be verified.