Haris still on cops’ most-wanted list
His name had been on the list of the most wanted people on Bangladesh Police's website for several years.
But the name of Haris Ahmed, younger brother of army chief Gen Aziz Ahmed, was suddenly removed from the list on the website sometime after February 12. Puzzlingly, it reappeared on the list three days later.
Visiting Bangladesh police's website around 7:30pm yesterday, this newspaper found that Haris' name was still on the list of the most wanted people.
According to an investigation by Al-Jazeera, 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. From there, he fled to Budapest, Hungary. He has been living there, assuming the identity of Mohammad Hasan, it mentioned.
Haris' name was also struck off the Interpol's list of wanted people sometime in 2019.
Following the removal of Haris' name from Bangladesh police's list of the most wanted people on February 12, this correspondent texted Md Sohel Rana, the spokesperson for the police headquarters, on Sunday, asking him on what grounds the name was dropped.
Sohel, assistant inspector general at the PHQ, asked the correspondent to wait.
Contacted yesterday, Sohel said the desk concerned was yet to give him reply in this regard.
According to a report by Bangla daily Prothom Alo on Tuesday, the government granted mercy to Haris and Anis, who were awarded life sentence. Haris was convicted in two murder cases and Anis in one.
Their brother Josef was sentenced to death in the case over the murder of Dhaka University student Abu Morshed in March, 2004. Haris was awarded life term in the same case.
Josef was later granted presidential pardon.
On March 28, 2019, the home ministry issued a gazette notification pardoning Haris and Anis from their sentences, mentioned the report.
The Daily Star, however, could not get confirmation of this from the ministry.
Talking to the media yesterday, Chief of Bangladesh Army Staff Gen Aziz Ahmed said, "When I met my brothers in April, there was no case against them. That case was filed as part of a conspiracy. They were acquitted from it."
"Propaganda that Al-Jazeera is running is malicious," he said.
The Prothom Alo report mentioned that Gen Aziz was appointed the army chief on June 25, 2018. A month earlier, Josef had been pardoned from his sentence on May 27, 2018.
Nine months later, the home ministry issued a gazette notification granting clemency to Haris and Anis on March 28, 2019, it pointed out.
On that very day, copies of the notification were sent to two speedy trial tribunals in Dhaka, which handed down the sentences to the accused. The courts then sent orders to Mohammadpur and Kotwali police stations to revoke the arrest warrants against Haris and Anis, it mentioned.
In the notification, the home ministry stated that by power of Section 401 of the Code of Criminal Procedure (CrPC), Haris and Anis -- both victims of political vengeance -- were pardoned from life sentence that had been passed in a conspiratorial and fabricated case, said the Prothom Alo report.
Section 401 (1) of the CrPC says, "When any person has been sentenced to punishment for an offence, the government may at any time without conditions or upon any conditions which the person sentenced accepts, suspend the execution of his sentence or remit the whole or any part of the punishment to which he has been sentenced."
Despite repeated attempts, The Daily Star could not reach Home Minister Asaduzzaman Khan over his mobile phone yesterday. This newspaper called him around 20 times but did not get any response.
Asked how the two brothers got pardon without surrendering before court, Dhaka Metropolitan Public Prosecutor Abdullah Abu said, "I don't know anything about it."
Earlier, Law Minister Anisul Haque had told Prothom Alo that there is no bar to pardoning the accused in absentia under Section 401 of the CrPC.
But the home minister told the Bangla daily, "A fugitive cannot avail any legal rights. He or she has to surrender to avail those."
Regarding Haris and Anis, the home boss said, "I know nothing about their getting pardon. I cannot say anything without knowing about it."
He, however, said, "A person appealed to us for pardon from life term. I cannot remember his name. The honourable president granted the appeal. Another person claimed that he was suffering from mental illness. The honourable president said the person could go abroad for treatment. That is all I can recall."