Babar, Nizami among 11 new accused
Charges have been pressed against 11 new suspects including former state minister for home Lutfozzaman Babar and Jamaat-e-Islami chief Motiur Rahman Nizami in two cases filed in connection with the 10-truck arms haul in Chittagong in 2004.
The arms produced in Chinese factory Norinco were to be transported to India for Assamese separatist group United Liberation Front of Asom (Ulfa), Muniruzzaman Chowdhury, investigation officer of the two cases, told reporters yesterday after submitting two supplementary charge sheets.
Muniruzzaman, senior assistant superintendent of the Criminal Investigation Department, handed over the charge sheets to Md Mainuddin, assistant commissioner (Prosecution) of Chittagong Metropolitan Police, at the latter's office at about 5:30pm.
Two cases were filed -- one for smuggling firearms and the other under the arms act -- a day after ten truckloads of arms and ammunitions were seized at a jetty of Chittagong Urea Fertiliser Ltd (CUFL) in the port city on April 2, 2004.
Mainuddin said the supplementary charge sheets would be sent to the Chief Metropolitan Magistrate's Court.
In 2004, investigators submitted charge sheets against 45 people in the case filed for smuggling of firearms and 43 people in the other case filed under the arms act. Four people, who were accused in both the cases, have died.
In a memorandum of evidence to Public Prosecutor (PP) Kamal Uddin Ahmed on June 3 this year, the CID mentioned the names of 11 new accused.
Apart from Babar and Nizami, Ulfa leader Paresh Barua, former director general of National Security Intelligence (NSI) Brig Gen (retd) Abdur Rahim, the then director of the Directorate General of Forces Intelligence (DGFI) Maj Gen (retd) Rezzaqul Haider Chowdhury, who was later appointed as the DG of NSI, are on both the charge sheets.
The others are former NSI director wing commander (retd) Shahab Uddin, ex-NSI deputy director Maj (retd) Liakat Hossain, ex-NSI field officer Akbar Hossain Khan, former additional secretary of industries ministry Nurul Amin, ex-CUFL managing director Mohsin Talukder and former CUFL general manager (admin) Enamul Hoque.
All 11 new suspects except Ulfa leader Paresh, and Nurul Amin are in prison, said the investigator.
The names of the 11 suspects were added to the previous list of accused in the two cases. Of the 11 accused, six have already given eight statements, he said.
The charge sheets mentioned 265 names as important witnesses including police officials, magistrates, former officials of NSI and DGFI, and former secretaries of different ministries.
SUPPLEMENTARY CHARGE SHEETS
The supplementary charge sheets said prime accused Hafizur Rahman with the help of other accused smuggled in the huge cache of arms in two fishing trawlers -- Amanat and FB Khazardan. The arms were being unloaded at a CUFL jetty in Chittagong in the early hours of April 2, 2004.
When havildar Golum Rasul of Bandar police outpost was tipped off that huge cartons were being loaded onto trucks from two trawlers, he informed sergeant Md Alauddin, the then outpost in-charge, about it.
Alauddin conveyed it to Abdullahel Baki, the then deputy commissioner (DC) of port zone.
Baki sent Sergeant Helal Uddin Bhuiyan and Ahadur Rahman of Karnaphuli Police Station to the spot to look into it.
When the policemen reached the spot, two persons identifying themselves as Hafizur Rahman and Abul Hossain claimed ownership of the goods. The person who identified himself as Abul Hossain was actually the then NSI deputy director Maj (retd) Liakat Hossain.
Police seized the huge cache of arms and ammunition, and loaded those onto ten trucks.
The then officer-in-charge of Karnaphuli Police Station filed two cases -- one under the arms act and the other for smuggling arms -- with the same police station against 43 people the next day.
The CID took charge of investigation into the two cases after IO Ahadur Rahman was relieved of the task for his controversial probe in less than a month.
Kabir Uddin Ahmed, ASP of CID (Chittagong zone), was appointed the IO, who submitted a report on June 11, 2004 accusing 42 people in the case filed under the arms act.
ASP Nawshad Ali was later appointed the third IO, who submitted a supplementary charge sheet in the same case on August 28 the same year. He added one more name to the list of 42 accused.
He also probed the arms smuggling case and submitted the charge sheet in November accusing 45 people.
The Metropolitan Sessions Judge's Court on February 14, 2008 ordered further investigation into the cases following an appeal by the then PP Ahsanul Haque Hena during the tenure of the last caretaker government.
The court gave directives to probe seven specific points that the previous investigators had not addressed.
ASP of CID Ismail Hossain probed the cases further as the fourth IO for nearly 11 months but failed to submit probe report despite obtaining six extensions.
A Chittagong court on January 18, 2009 gave an order to replace Ismail Hossain following an appeal by the state lawyer.
ASP Muniruzzaman was appointed the fifth investigation officer, who started a fresh probe into the cases on February 4 in 2009. He obtained confessional statements of two prime accused -- Hafizur Rahman and Din Mohammad -- who gave information about the involvement of some government and intelligence officials in the arms smuggling.
The IO submitted the probe report yesterday after 13 extensions.
Muniruzzaman said the government did not put “any pressure” on him while carrying out the investigation.
The charge sheets are based on the findings, he said.