Home Minister Asaduzzaman Khan said yesterday that Anis Ahmed and Haris Ahmed -- the brothers of Army Chief General Aziz Ahmed -- were pardoned in accordance with law.
Responding to a question from reporters after attending a function in the capital's Moghbazar, he said lawyers were also of the opinion that there was scope for pardoning convicts under the rules.
"The process of releasing Haris and Anis has been done through due process. There is nothing secret about it," he said.
Regarding Haris Ahmed's name and picture on the wanted list of police, the minister said this was due to a communication gap.
On March 28, 2019, the home ministry issued a notification pardoning Haris Ahmed and Anis Ahmed, according to a government circular.
The Police Headquarters (PHQ), situated just one and a half kilometres from the ministry, has apparently not gotten that notification even after 23 months have elapsed.
Haris Ahmed, younger brother of Gen Aziz Ahmed, is still on the wanted list on the Bangladesh Police website.
Haris had been on the list of most wanted people on the website for several years until his name was dropped sometime after February 12 this year.
Puzzlingly, however, it reappeared on the list on February 15 and was still there as of 9:00pm yesterday.
Asked, PHQ spokesperson Md Sohel Rana said, "The 'wanted' list is updated according to specific rules upon directives from the relevant authorities of the government. In the case of removing a name, there is scope to drop any name from the list depending on directives from the authorities based on an application in accordance to the rules."
The pardon notification was issued by the jail wing of security services division at the home ministry.
Contacted, Sayed Bealal Hossain, additional secretary (Jail), and Mohammad Abu Sayed Mollah, deputy secretary (Jail-2), of security services division, said they were not at their current positions when the notification was issued and cannot comment on the matter.
Md Shahiduzzaman, senior secretary at the security services division, told The Daily Star yesterday that he could not recall whether the notification issued on March 28, 2019, was forwarded to the police headquarters.
"It's an old file and I can't make a comment on it now. I have to see the files first. Also, I can't say over the phone. You have to come to the office," he said.
According to a recent Al-Jazeera documentary, Haris and his two brothers -- Anis Ahmed and Tofail Ahmed alias Josef -- were found guilty of involvement in the murder of Mustafizur Rahman Mustafa, member of a political party, in 1996.
Haris and Anis were referred to as fugitive convicts in the documentary titled "All the Prime Minister's Men" aired by the Qatar-based television channel.
Haris went into hiding in India after the killing and then fled to Budapest, Hungary, the documentary said. He has been living there with the name Mohammad Hasan, the documentary mentioned.
Haris's name was also struck off the Interpol's list of wanted people sometime in 2019.
In May, 2018, Josef was granted presidential clemency, according to media reports.