6 killers still out of reach
Despite all out effort, the government has failed to bring back any of the six fugitive killers of Bangabandhu over the last three years.
Of the six, Maj (retd) Noor Chowdhury and Maj (retd) Rashed Chowdhury have been located to be residing in Toronto, Canada and in Los Angeles of the United States respectively. But due to legal complexities they could not be brought back.
The government has also failed to trace the whereabouts of the remaining four self-confessed killers despite diplomatic and police efforts.
Officials said the government was yet to locate Col (dismissed) Khandaker Abdur Rashid, Lt Col (relieved) Shariful Haque Dalim, Capt Abdul Majed and Risaldar Moslehuddin Khan as they had been changing their locations time to time. The four have Interpol arrest warrant against them.
Apart from them, another convict Lt Col Aziz Pasha died in Zimbabwe on June 2, 2001.
Bangladesh government has already written letters to every country, to some countries twice, seeking help in tracing and sending back the fugitives. The government has also made a global appeal to track down the killers at the 78th annual general meeting of Interpol in Singapore in October, 2009.
In August 2010, Foreign Minister Dipu Moni sent formal letters to certain countries seeking cooperation for deporting the remaining killers as they were believed to be hiding there.
On October 5, 2011, she again wrote to Canadian Foreign Minister John Baird and US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton with request to handover convicted killers Noor Chowdhury and Rashed Chowdhury to Bangladesh to face justice.
However, Canada declined to deport Noor, as the Canadian policy does not approve sending back a person where there is the provision of death sentence.
In response, the Bangladesh government argued that the fugitives on their return could appeal to the higher court against the conviction and seek review of the verdict from the Appellate Division. Thereafter, they could also appeal to the President for clemency. So, it was not correct that they would face punishment soon as they were brought back, said the government.
The US has not yet agreed to extradite Rashed because of legal complexity and a case filed in connection with his residency which is pending with a US court.
Akramul Qader, Bangladesh Ambassador to the US, on March 29, 2012 made a formal request to US congressman Peter King, who is also chairman of the United States House Committee on Homeland Security, about sending back Rashed.
Foreign Minister Dipu Moni raised the issue of deporting Rashed during her bilateral meetings with Hillary Clinton in Washington DC on October 10, 2011 and again during the official meeting with the US secretary of state when she visited Dhaka on May 5, 2012.
Officials said Hillary had assured to look into the matter.
The US government had deported another fugitive Lt Col Mohiuddin Ahmed on June 17, 2007, after a US court rejected his appeal for residency. Mohiuddin was hanged along with four other convicted killers of Bangabandhu on January 28, 2010.
Earlier, the government formed a taskforce on bringing back the convicts and appointed lawyers to bring back Noor and Rashed through legal process.
Talking to The Daily Star, officials at the foreign and home ministries said they with the Interpol and diplomatic sources had spotted the absconding killers but the fugitives moved frequently from one country to another. This was the main problem in keeping track of them.
Bangladesh believes Capt Abdul Majed and Risaldar Muslehuddin are hiding in India, but India said they had not been able to locate them and asked for more information.
According to sources, Rashid, one of the key plotters of the massacre of Bangabandhu and most of his family, had earlier settled in Libya, where he started a construction business. He reportedly visits Pakistan frequently but since the fall of Gaddafi, Dhaka has no information about his whereabouts.
Dalim lives in Pakistan and frequently travels to Libya and the Kenyan capital of Nairobi where he has businesses, said home ministry sources.
Killers awarded with diplomatic jobs
After the most gruesome political assassination in the history of Bangladesh, perpetrated on August 15 and November 3 of 1975, in which Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, most of his family members and four national leaders were killed by a section of disgruntled army officers, the killers were allowed free passage to Bangkok by a special plane.
The getaway was arranged by the then president Khandaker Moshtaque Ahmed immediately after the jail killing of the four national leaders on November 3, 1975. Assuming power through the November 7, 1975 political changeover, former president late Lt Gen Ziaur Rahman rewarded 12 army officials involved in the Bangabandhu killing with diplomatic jobs at Bangladesh missions abroad in 1976.
They were incorporated in the Foreign Service in September 1980. Only Farooq and Rashid declined to accept any diplomatic assignment.
Subsequent military ruler HM Ershad, who came to power through a military coup on March 24, 1982, and the elected governments of Khaleda Zia followed the policy of Lt Gen Zia regarding the self-confessed killers of Bangabandhu. The accused army officers enjoyed all facilities of government jobs and got promotions during the regimes.
Those who were given diplomatic jobs as rewards were Lt Col Shariful Huq Dalim, Lt Col Md Abdul Aziz Pasha, Lt Col Mohiuddin Ahmed, Lt Col Sultan Shahriar Rashid Khan, Maj Md Bazlul Huda, Lt Col AM Rashed Chowdhury, Lt Col Noor Chowdhury, Maj Ahmed Sharful Hossain, Capt Md Kismat Hashem, Lt Khairuzzaman (later major), and Lt Abdul Majed (later captain).
Lt Col Dalim was the first to get a diplomatic job at the Bangladesh mission in Peking (now Beijing), China. Later he was made the consul general at the Bangladesh consulate in Hong Kong. He also served in Bangladesh mission in Tripoli, Libya. He got several promotions and finally was elevated to the post of an ambassador and his last posting was in Nairobi, Kenya as the high commissioner.
Dalim along with Lt Col Shahriar was also involved in an abortive coup on June 17, 1980. After that both men fled from their respective missions fearing arrest, but they returned to their jobs following an understanding with the then Zia government. Dalim, who fled to London from China following the failed 1980 coup, got back his job during Lt Gen HM Ershad's regime and was appointed to the Hong Kong mission.
Lt Col AM Rashed Chowdhury served as a counsellor in Nigeria till 1984, and his last posting was in Tokyo as the head of chancery as well as a counsellor (political). The last Awami League government in 1996 removed him from service.
Risaldar Moslemuddin was given a posting in Tehran and Jeddah. Capt Md Kismat Hashem got a diplomatic job in Ottawa, and Lt Abdul Majid (later a captain) in Tripoli.
Lt Col Md Abdul Aziz Pasha was appointed as the first secretary to Bangladesh mission in Rome. Aziz Pasha was arrested in Dhaka over his involvement in the June 17, 1980 coup, but he too reached an understanding with the then government by agreeing to testify about the coup. He was again given a diplomatic job as a counsellor in Rome. Aziz Pasha also served in Nairobi.
Pasha's last posting was in Zimbabwe as the deputy high commissioner. He was dismissed from service by the last Awami League government in 1996. Pasha sought asylum in Zimbabwe and died there on June 2, 2001.
Surprisingly, the BNP-led alliance government, after assuming power again in 2001, reinstated Pasha in service posthumously, to provide his family with all government facilities like pension, showing him “retired” from the service.