Tarique, Babar indicted
The trial of the much-talked-about August 21 grenade attack case is set to begin on March 28, as a Dhaka court yesterday framed charges against 30 accused in the supplementary charge sheet of the killing case.
The newly indicted include former prime minister Khaleda Zia's elder son Tarique Rahman, her nephew Saiful Islam Duke, the then state minister for home Lutfozzaman Babar, four other BNP leaders and a Jamaat leader.
Among others, three are former IGPs, two ex-NSI officials, three former CID officials, two ex-senior police officials, and three former high-ranking officials of the army and the navy.
The 13 high-ups were in service when the grenade attack was made on an Awami League rally at Bangabandhu Avenue in the capital on August 21, 2004. Twenty-four AL leaders and workers were killed and 300 others were injured in the attack.
The gruesome attack was aimed at assassinating Awami League President Sheikh Hasina, then leader of the opposition.
The court yesterday charged the accused with various offences that include hatching a conspiracy to carry out the attack and lending the killers financial and administrative help.
The supplementary charge sheet against the 30 accused was submitted on July 3 last year.
Earlier in 2008, the same court charged another 22 people with murder, attempt to murder, causing hurt, criminal liability, conspiracy and blasting grenades in two cases -- one for murder and another for bomb blast -- filed with Motijheel Police Station following the grenade attack.
The accused include former BNP lawmaker Abdus Salam Pintu and Harkatul Jihad (Huji) chief Mufti Abdul Hannan. The first charge sheet in the August 21 case was placed in 2008 against 22 people, including Pintu and 21 Huji leaders and workers.
The grenade attack on the AL rally was the outcome of collaboration between Huji, influential leaders of the BNP and the Jamaat, and some officials of the home ministry, police, Directorate General of Forces Intelligence (DGFI), National Security Intelligence (NSI) and Prime Minister's Office (PMO), according to the supplementary charge sheet submitted last year.
The grenade attack left 24 AL leaders, including President Zillur Rahman's wife Ivy Rahman, and workers dead, and nearly 300 others injured. Sheikh Hasina narrowly escaped death.
Huji leaders met Tarique, BNP senior vice chairman, a few days before the August 21 grenade attack in 2004 and got the go-ahead to carry out the blasts.
Lutfozzaman Babar, then state minister for home, Harris Chowdhury, political secretary to then prime minister Khaleda Zia, Ali Ahsan Mohammad Mojaheed, secretary general of Jamaat-e-Islami, then NSI director general Brig Gen Abdur Rahim and DGFI director Brig Gen Rezzaqul Haider Chowdhury were present at that meeting at Hawa Bhaban in the capital's Banani.
According to the charges, leaders of banned militant group Harkatul Jihad al Islami (Huji) held two meetings with Tarique. Both the meetings were held at Hawa Bhaban, widely considered the alternative centre of power during the last BNP-Jamaat coalition rule.
In both the meetings, Huji leaders sought support in executing their plans to assassinate Hasina and other top AL leaders.
Tarique assured the Huji men of an all-out support.
On August 18, three days before the attack, the Huji leaders met Babar at the residence of former BNP deputy minister Abdus Salam Pintu. Owner of Hanif transport Mohammad Hanif and BNP ward commissioner Ariful Islam Arif were present there.
Babar and Pintu assured the militant leaders that Hanif and Arif would help them in every way and that “they would receive all administrative assistance.”
The Arges grenades used in the attack were smuggled in from Pakistan. Pintu's brother Tajuddin had supplied the grenades that were taken to Mufti Hannan's Badda office from Pintu's Dhanmondi residence on August 20.
The supplementary charge sheet said some police officials deliberately did not take security measures so that the perpetrators had no difficulty in staging the blasts and fleeing the scene.
The then Dhaka Metropolitan Police commissioner Ashraful Huda, who later went on to become the Inspector General of Police, went abroad on the day of the attack without ordering adequate security arrangements for the AL rally.
On his return, he did not take any punitive steps against the law enforcers who were negligent in their duties on the rally venue.
The then IGP Shahudul Haque purposely did not update himself on security measures at the rally venue. He did not even visit the scene after the attack, though it was only 500 yards from his office. He also did not give any directives to identify or arrest the perpetrators.
Tajuddin, supplier of the grenades, left the country for Pakistan on instructions from Babar. Khaleda was aware of this, said the charge sheet.
Tajuddin was provided with a fake passport with the name “Badal”. Khaleda's nephew and private secretary Duke, his brother-in-law and DGFI official Lt Col Saiful Islam Joarder, and another DGFI high-up Maj Gen ATM Amin helped Tajuddin flee the country on October 10, 2006.
After the attack, the BNP blamed the AL for carrying out the attack on its own rally.
Through several investigations, the BNP-Jamaat alliance government relentlessly tried to establish that the AL had killed its own activists to tarnish the government's image.
It also tried to prove that "foreign enemies" instigated the carnage, and some listed criminals holed up in India had taken part in the attack.
The investigators made up a story involving Mokhlesur Rahman, an AL leader and former ward commissioner of Moghbazar in the capital.
They also attempted to feed the public with another story woven around Joj Mia.
Joj Mia was made to make a confessional statement naming Mokhlesur as one of the plotters.
During the BNP-Jamaat rule till October 2006, the investigators were out to divert the probe into a wrong direction to save the real culprits. The CID failed to submit charge sheets though leaders in the then government claimed several times that the probe was about to be completed and everything would be revealed.
Media reports on the cooked-up story of Joj Mia brought to public attention the then CID officials' attempt to derail the investigation.
During the last caretaker government's tenure, the first charge sheets in the August 21 cases were placed against 22 people, including ex-BNP deputy minister Abdus Salam Pintu and 21 Huji leaders and workers.
Even then, the investigators could not unmask the mastermind and unearth the sources of the grenades used in the attack.
A further probe was launched in 2009 to find out the source of the grenades used in the attack. And the supplementary charge sheet was submitted last year after investigation.
In another case filed under the explosive substances act after the grenade attack, the court framed charges against 19 of the 30 accused in the supplementary charge sheet.
The other 11 accused were acquitted of the charges. They include three former IGPs, three ex-CID officials, two former senior police officials, Khaleda's nephew, and two former army officers ATM Amin and Saiful Islam Joarder.
CONSPIRACY AND APPROVING THE PLAN
The following persons have been charged for conspiring and approving the plan of the attack executed by Huji men and their accomplices.
Tarique Rahman, Lutfozzaman Babar, Abul Harris Chowdhury, Ali Ahsan Mohammad Mojaheed, Kazi Shah Mofazzal Hossain Kaikobad, a BNP lawmaker, Brig Gen (retd) Rezzaqul Haider Chowdhury, then DGFI director, Brig Gen (retd) Abdur Rahim, former NSI DG, Mohammad Hanif, owner of Hanif Paribahan and Ariful Islam Arif, former councillor of DCC ward-53 and a BNP leader.
Their charges carry up to death sentence.
GRIEVOUS HURT, ATTEMPT TO MURDER, MURDER, ABETMENT & CRIMINAL LIABILITY
The persons who have been charged for causing grievous hurt, attempt to murder, murder, abetment and criminal liability are Huji founder Abdus Salam, Huji leaders Moulana Sheikh Farid, Moulana Abdur Rouf and Moulana Abdul Hannan Sabbir, Kashmir-based Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) leader Abdul Malek alias Golam Mohammad, Pakistan-based LeT leader Yusuf Butt alias Majid Butt, Mufti Shafiqur Rahman, Mufti Abdul Hai, Hafez Moulana Yahya, and Babu alias Ratul Babu.
If convicted, they may get maximum death penalty.
FINANCIAL AND ADMINISTRATIVE HELP TO THE KILLERS
Former inspector generals of police (IGPs) Ashraful Huda and Shahudul Haque were charged for assisting the killers financially and administratively to execute the attack.
The duo faces up to life-term imprisonment.
VANISHING OF EVIDENCE
Former deputy commissioner (East) of DMP Obaidur Rahman and former DC (South) of DMP Khan Sayeed Hassan have been charged for having had the evidence of the grisly attack vanish and providing the killers with administrative assistance.
If found guilty, the two may get life sentence.
HELPING THE GRENADE SUPPLIER TO FLEE TO PAKISTAN
Lt Commander (retd) Saiful Islam Duke, also nephew of Khaleda Zia, Saiful Islam Joarder, former DGFI official (sacked) and Maj Gen (retd) ATM Amin, a former top DGFI official have been charged for protecting the supplier of the Arges grenades used in the attack and helping him flee to Pakistan.
These charges also carry up to life-term jail sentence.
DIVERTING THE FACTS AND CREATING JOJ MIA DRAMA
Former SP Ruhul Amin of CID, former ASPs of CID Atiqur Rahman, Abdur Rashid and former IGP Khoda Baksh Chowdhury have been charged for misleading the case and creating the much-talked-about Joj Mia drama to save the killers.
Ruhul Amin, Atiqur Rahman and Abdur Rashid were the officials who led the first investigation when Khoda Baksh was the IGP.
The accused persons face up to seven years in jail.
During yesterday's proceedings, Judge Shahed Nuruddin of the Speedy Trial Tribunal-1 also rejected the discharge petitions of 33 accused, including Babar and Mojaheed, now in jail.
The court asked the witnesses to appear before it on March 28, when the trial begins.
On October 9 last year, Syed Rezaur Rahman, chief prosecution counsel, prayed that the court frame charges against all 52 accused, alleging that they had meetings at eight places, including the Hawa Bhaban, to plot the grisly blasts.
Charges were framed in the two cases yesterday after the prosecution and the defence had argued for 25 days.
In the murder case, charges were framed against 19 people, including Tarique, under sections 307 (attempt to murder), 326 (grievous hurt), 324 (causing hurt), 109 (abetment), 34 (criminal liability), 120(B) (criminal conspiracy) and 302 (murder) of the Penal Code.
Bomb blast charges were brought against Tarique and 18 others under sections 3, 4 and 6 of the Explosive Substances Act.
The court discharged 11 others, as the charges of possessing grenades and exploding those on the rally against them were not proved.
They are Duke, Ashraful Huda, Shahudul Haque, Khoda Baksh, Munshi Atique, Abdur Rashid, Ruhul Amin, Obaidur Rahman, Khan Sayeed Hassan, Saiful Islam Joarder and ATM Amin.
The 22 persons indicted earlier, including BNP leader Abdus Salam Pintu, will also face trial, the court said.
Of those indicted yesterday, Babar, Mojaheed and 17 others, pleaded not guilty and demanded justice after the judge read out the charges to them.
Following the charge framing, Babar told the court that he was innocent. "There is a court above this court and that is the court of Allah," he said.
Jamaat leader Mojaheed said he had been falsely implicated in the case to assassinate his character. He demanded justice from the court.
Tarique Rahman, who is now living in London, and 10 others who were indicted yesterday remain absconding.
They were charged in absentia.
The court also rejected a petition submitted by advocate Abdur Rezak Khan to become Tarique's counsel in the latter's absence.
Referring to the previous indictment on October 29, 2008, the court said it would remain valid.
In 2008, the CID submitted charge sheets against Pintu and 21 Huji men, including militant kingpin Mufti Abdul Hannan.
On July 3 last year, names of 30 more people were included in the supplementary charge sheet.
CHARGED FRAMED IN 2008
On October 29, 2008, the Dhaka court charged 22 persons with attempt to murder, grievous hurt, causing hurt, abetment, criminal liability, criminal conspiracy and murder, and exploding grenades on the AL rally.
The court charged former BNP lawmaker Pintu also for approving the plan of the grenade attack prepared by Hannan and his accomplices. Pintu was also charged for assisting the Huji men with finances and administrative help and abetting them for killing and injuring the victims.
Pintu, Hannan and 12 others, who are now in jail, had then pleaded not guilty and demanded justice after the charges were read out to them. Eight accused have been absconding.
The 12 accused in jail are Hannan's brother Mohibullah alias Mafizur Rahman alias Ovi, Sharif Shahidul Islam alias Bipul, Maulana Abu Sayeed alias Abu Zafar, Abul Kalam Azad alias Bulbul, Jahangir Alam, Moulana Abu Taher, Shahadatullah Jewel, Hossain Ahmed Tamim, Mufti Moinuddin Sheikh alias Abu Zandal alias Masum Billah, Arif Hasan Sumon, Rafiqul Islam Sabuj and Mohammad Ujjal alias Ratan.
The eight absconding accused are Pintu's brothers Moulana Tajuddin and Moulana Liton, Anisul Mursalin and his brother Mahibul Muttakin, Iqbal, Moulana Abu Bakar alias Selim Howlader, Jahangir Alam Badar and Khalilur Rahman.
Charges were framed against them in absentia.