Aug 21 grenade attack trial will end very soon, State counsel says

Speaking to on Sunday, Syed Rezaur Rahman said 12 of the 20 defence witnesses have testified in court. 

The court will start hearing the arguments after the end of testimony and then it will deliver the verdict.

Rezaur, a member of the Awami League’s Advisory Council, said, “The trial will end and the verdict will be delivered very soon.”

He, however, could not specifify when the trial will end. “But we all are trying to take the case to verdict following the rules of disposal.”

The court is set to record testimonies of the defence witnesses on Tuesday.

Judge Shahed Nuruddin is hearing the cases – one over the killings and the other under the Explosives Act – at the Tribunal set up in Old Dhaka’s Bakshibazar.

Court documents showed that 31 of the 52 accused in the two cases defended themselves in court on June 12 after judge recorded testimonies of 225 of 491 state witnesses until May.

Nineteen absconding accused, including BNP Chairperson Khaleda Zia’s son and the party’s Senior Vice Chairman Tarique Rahman, have not got the opportunity  to defend themselves.

Others absconding include Khaleda’s former political secretary Haris Chowdhury, Shafiqur Rahman, Mufti Abdul Hye, Maulana Abu Bakar, ‘Iqbal’, Khalilur Rahman, Jahangir Alam Badar, Maulana Jubair alias Delowar, Maulana Tajul Islam, former police officer Obaidur Rahman and Khan Sayed Hasan.

Twenty-three of the accused, including former state minister for home Lutfozzaman Babar, and former deputy minister Abdus Salam Pintoo, are in jail.

Two of the accused – former minister and Jamaat-e-Islami Secretary General Ali Ahsan Mohammad Mujaheed, and Harkat-ul-Jihad al-Islami leader Mufti Abdul Hannan – have been hanged for war crimes and killings of judges in a terror attack respectively.

The attack targeted an Awami League rally at Bangabandhu Avenue on Aug 21, 2004 when the BNP-Jamaat government was in power.

Sheikh Hasina, at the time leader of the opposition in parliament, was to address it.

She was stepping off the truck, which was being used as a dais, when the assailants hurled the grenades into the rally. Detectives said 13 to 14 grenades were detonated on the day.

Among those killed in the blasts was Bangladesh Mohila Awami League president Ivy Rahman, wife of senior Awami League leader Zillur Rahman, who was later to be elected the country’s president. The attack left Hasina with hearing problems.

Late Dhaka mayor Mohammad Hanif was among over 500 injured in the explosions.

During the tenure of the BNP-Jamaat coalition government, attempts were made to play down the incident and put a lid on the cases.

Proper chargesheets were submitted and investigations initiated once the Fakhruddin Ahmed-led caretaker government took charge in January 2007.

Investigations received a new boost when the Awami League returned to power in 2009 and the names of 30 others, including Tarique, were added to the list of the accused in the cases.

The cases were earlier shifted from the Speedy Trial Tribunal to the Sessions Judge’s Court and have again been transferred back to the Tribunal.