None of the six convicted fugitive killers of Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman hiding abroad could be brought back home in spite of the government's special efforts.
Only two of them could be traced to two North American countries, but the government has yet to find out the whereabouts of the other four despite efforts made through diplomatic channels, intelligence and the Interpol.
The government insists on bringing the six fugitives back to the country and have them face justice and it a top-priority issue.
On November 19, 2009, the Supreme Court upheld a High Court verdict, confirming capital punishment of 12 people, including the six, for killing the Father of the Nation and most of his family members on August 15, 1975.
The six fugitives are: Col (dismissed) Khandaker Abdur Rashid, Lt Col (relieved) Shariful Haque Dalim, Maj (retd) Noor Chowdhury, Maj (retd) Rashed Chowdhury, Capt Abdul Majed and Risaldar Moslehuddin Khan.
Five of the convicts -- Syed Farooq Rahman, Sultan Shahriar Rashid Khan, Bazlul Huda, AKM Mohiuddin Ahmed, and Mohiuddin Ahmed -- were executed on January 27, 2010. The other killer, Aziz Pasha, died in Zimbabwe in 2001.
“Our diplomatic efforts are on. This is one of our top priority assignments,” Law Minister Anisul Huq said, adding, “We have located two fugitive killers of the Father of the Nation.”
Noor is in Canada and Rashed in the USA, he said.
The government has been deeply engaged and continued discussion with the US and the Canadian governments about extradition of the two killers, but they have not yet agreed to extradite them because of “legal complexities”.
The government has repeatedly asked the US government to extradite Rashed, cancelling his political asylum.
Noor is now in Canada without any legal papers. The country has so far refused to deport him, as its policies do not approve sending back a person to a country that has the provision for death sentence.
Canada, however, did not accept Noor's application for political asylum, official sources said. In 2011, the government appointed a Canadian law firm to help the government bring back Noor.
On Sunday when outgoing Canadian High Commissioner Benoit-Pierre Laramee made a farewell call on Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, the premier reiterated Bangladesh's call to Canada to return convict Noor Chowdhury.
Noor was the man who had shot Bangabandhu dead.
“The prime minister sought his [Noor's] extradition,” PM's Press Secretary Ihsanul Karim told a media briefing at the PMO and the envoy in reply said he would convey Bangladesh's message to the Canadian authorities.
Asked about the other fugitives, Law Minister Anisul Huq said there was no such specific information about the remaining four, who are the self-confessed killers of Bangabandhu.
“But efforts are on to locate them,” he observed.
A taskforce comprised of ministers and high officials of the foreign, law and home ministries was formed in 2010 to locate and bring back the six killers.
“I am sure that we will get them back. As long as we don't get them back, our efforts will continue. We know the whereabouts of the two killers and we are in discussion to remove the bottlenecks regarding their deportation,” the law minister told The Daily Star on August 11.
Replying to a question, he said, “We have appointed two law firms in the USA and Canada for lobbying to bring the killers back to the country.”
The Bangladesh government has already written letters to “every” country, seeking assistance in this regard. It has also made a global appeal in bilateral, regional and international forums to track down the culprits, said foreign ministry officials.
Highly placed sources at the Prime Minister's Office (PMO) and foreign ministry said there was constant contact with the US Department of State and also with the Justice Department for the deportation of Rashed Chowdhury.
“Since President Trump has declared that no criminal will be allowed to stay in the USA, we hope that killer Rashed Chowdhury will not be allowed to stay here too,” said a Bangladeshi diplomat in Washington claiming that Rashed was staying in the USA concealing his identity.
The diplomat also claimed that a former ambassador in Washington during the previous BNP regime gave a nod to the US administration to give Rashed political asylum.
Asked when he got the asylum status, the diplomat said, “You see, it takes time to get the process completed. It's not clear when Rashed got political asylum and the US side never discloses any information about the killer.”
Dhaka came to know about Rashed's status only when US Ambassador to Bangladesh Marcia Bernicat in August 2015 officially informed Dhaka that Rashed was in the US after securing political asylum.
Until that time, the US, which had long been assuring Bangladesh to consider the extradition of Rashed, apparently suppressed the information.
On the possibility of early extradition of Rashed from the US, the Bangladeshi diplomat said, “There is assurance from the Trump administration to look into the matter, but no legal step has yet been initiated to send him back to Dhaka.”