Trial ‘to be completed’ by year end
The trial for the case filed over the terror attack on Holey Artisan Café in the capital’s Gulshan in 2016, the worst terrorist attack in the country, is expected to be completed by this year.
“We will try our best to conclude the trial of the case by this year,” Jahangir Alam Chowdhury, public prosecutor of the Dhaka Anti-Terrorism Special Tribunal which is dealing with the case, told The Daily Star yes-terday.
Five armed militants stormed the upscale eatery in the diplomatic zone on July 1 and held the diners hostage before brutally killing 20 of them -- three Bangladeshis, seven Japanese, nine Italians and one Indian.
Two police officials were also killed during the 12-hour standoff.
A case was filed with Gulshan police under the Anti-Terrorism Act follow-ing the terror attack accusing a faction of the local JMB outfit.
After over two years of investigation, the Counter Terrorism and Trans-national Crime (CTTC) unit of DMP submitted a charge sheet to a Dhaka court on July 23 last year, accusing eight militants.
The accused are Jahangir Alam alias Rajib Gandhi, recruiter of the café attackers; Rashed alias Rash, one of the planners; Sohel Mahfuz, sup-plier of grenades; Mizanur Rahman alias Boro Mizan and Hadisur Rahman Sagor, suppliers of arms; and Rakibul Islam, a so-called religious trainer, Shariful Islam Khaled and Mamunur Rashid Ripon.
All the accused are behind bars.
Some 211 people were named as prosecution witnesses. The tribunal framed charges against the accused on November 26 the same year.
So far, 60 prosecution witnesses including several eyewitnesses gave their statements before the tribunal where the trial of the case began on December 3 last year with a deposition of the complainant of the case.
Chief of CTTC Monirul Islam at a briefing in the city yesterday said the attackers had planned a few more attacks, but the threats were neutral-ized through different successful operations against the terrorists.
Asked whether the attack was carried out due to intelligence failure, Monirul said, “It is not right to say it happened due to intelligence failure.”
He said they had some information, but those were not specific.
During the trial, owner of the café Sadat Mehdi, a former North South University teacher Hasnat Reza Karim and his wife Sharmina Parvin recounted their traumatic experiences before the tribunal.
According to the charge sheet, “Neo JMB” militants had planned the at-tack for six months. Their intention was to create “unrest” in Bangladesh and turn it into a “terrorist state”.
Five of 21 militants involved were killed inside the bakery in a commando operation launched to end the siege.
The five gunmen directly involved in the attack were Nibrash Islam, Mir Sabeh Mubashir and Rohan Imtiaz, Khairul Islam Payel and Shafiqul Is-lam Uzzal.
Eight others, including the attack mastermind Tamim Ahmed Chowdhury, were killed later in different anti-militancy drives.
The seven others killed in other operations are Sarwar Jahan, a top op-erative of mainstream JMB and its financier; Nurul Islam Marzan, a Chit-tagong University student and café attack coordinator; Jahidul Islam, a retired major and trainer, Basharuzzaman Chocolate, a software engineer; Abu Raihan Tarik, a top operative; Tanvir Kaderi, a banker and fi-nancier and Mizanur Rahman alias Chhoto Mizan, grenade supplier.
Describing the gory scene of the attack, Sharmina Parvin, who went to the café along with her husband and children on that fateful night, told the case tribunal how she saw innocent people being killed by the mili-tants.
Parvin was arrested after the attack but was exonerated later.
Sadat Mehdi, the café owner and also an eyewitness, told the court that it was a war-like situation on that night.