Verdict in Aug 21 grenade attack cases Wednesday

Dhaka, Oct 9 – All eyes are on the special court which is scheduled to deliver its much-awaited judgment Wednesday in the two cases lodged over the grisly August 21, 2004 grenade attack on an Awami League (AL) rally, bringing down the curtain on a 14-year-long wait. On September 18, Judge Shahed Nuruddin of the Dhaka Speedy Trial Tribunal 1 fixed October 10 for delivering its judgment after hearing arguments from both the sides.
In the entire proceedings, the tribunal took a total of 119 days for hearing from both sides in connection with the two cases—one filed for murder and another lodged under the Explosive Substances Act. The tribunal recorded the statements of 225 witnesses, of the total of 491
witnesses, in both cases.
Foolproof security measure have been taken by the authorities in and around the tribunal situated inside the central jail in the old part of the capital to preclude any untoward incident ahead of the verdict.
Chief prosecutor Syed Rezaur Rahman said, “I hope the tribunal would give the highest punishment to the accused persons.”
“The gruesome attack was carried out to destroy the Awami League and its leadership, including Sheikh Hasina. We have been able to prove the allegations brought against the accused persons beyond reasonable doubts. We hope that the tribunal will award the highest punishment to the offenders,” Rahman said.
On the other hand, defence lawyer advocate SM Shahjahan hoped that the tribunal would acquit the accused persons. “There is no documentary evidence against the accused persons. The court cannot punish them on the basis of mere suspicion,” Shahjahan said.
On August 21, 2004, a grenade attack was carried out on an anti-terrorism rally of the AL to kill the party’s front-ranking leaders, including Sheikh Hasina. As many as 24 people, including the
then Mohila Awami League president Ivy Rahman, were killed and 500 were injured. Sheikh Hasina and several senior leaders had a narrow escape.
Following the incident, Faruk Hossain, the then sub-inspector of Motijheel police station, had filed two cases on August 22, 2004—one under the Explosive Substances Act and the other for murder.
On June 9, 2008, the CID had pressed charges against BNP leader Abdus Salam Pintu, Harkat-ul-Jihad al-Islami (Huji) chief Mufti Abdul Hannan and 20 others for the grenade attack.
The trial began in 2008 during the caretaker government and the court recorded the statements of 61 witnesses.
The AL formed the government in 2009 and submitted petitions on August 3, 2009, for further investigation into the cases. Following the plea, the court ordered the CID to carry out the probe.
On July 3, 2011, the CID submitted supplementary charge-sheets against 30 people, including BNP senior vice-chairman Tarique Rahman, former state minister for home Lutfozzaman Babar, BNP leader Harris Chowdhury and Jamaat-e-Islami leader Ali Ahsan Mohammad Mujahid.
Following the supplementary charge-sheet, the number of accused persons stood at 52 in two cases and the trial against them is being held simultaneously with Dhaka’s Speedy Trial Tribunal-1 at the makeshift court at a building near the Dhaka Central Jail gate.
On March 18, 2012, the court framed charges against 52 people, including Tarique Rahman, in the cases.
Among the 52 accused, the trial in absentia of 18 accused, including Tarique, began, while three other accused, including Mufti Abdul Hannan, and Jamaat leader Ali Ahsan Mujahid have been executed in other cases.
The 23 accused, including former state minister Lutfuzzaman Babar and former deputy minister Abdus Salam Pintu, are in jail. The rest of the eight accused were out on bail. But on September 18, the court cancelled their bail and ordered their confinement in jail with due facilities they deserved under the law. Hence, the number of accused in jail currently stands at 31. – Staff Reporter