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Aug 21 grenade attack: Hearings on death references, appeals, yet to begin

  • Published at 01:27 am August 21st, 2019
August 21 Grenade attack
An unexploded grenade on Bangabandhu Avenue after the attack on August 21, 2004 Courtesy

Following completion of trial proceedings, a Dhaka court pronounced the verdict in the two cases after a 14 year wait in October last year

The hearings on death references and appeals are yet to begin in the two cases filed for the deadly grenade attack on an Awami League rally that killed 24 people at Bangabandhu Avenue on August 21, 2004.

Following completion of trial proceedings, a Dhaka court pronounced the verdict in the two cases after a 14 year wait in October last year.  Nineteen people were sentenced to death, including former state minister for home, Lutfozzaman Babar.  Another 19, including BNP acting chairman Tarique Rahman, were sentenced to life imprisonment.

The court also sentenced 11 others to varying jail terms in the cases, including two former inspectors general of police—Ashraful Huda, and Shahudul Haque.

However, 10 months after the verdicts, they are yet to be implemented as the cases are still pending with the High Court for death references and appeal hearings. Court sources said the Supreme Court  is in the process of preparing the paper-book for the death references.

A paper-book records all the details of a case, trial proceedings, verdicts, and other documents, including statements and evidence. A paper-book is necessary for the High Court to hear and dispose of a death reference or appeal.

Once the paper-book is ready, the chief justice will send the death references and appeals  to a HC bench for hearing and disposing of the matter.

The sources also said the government wants hearings on the death references for the August 21 grenade attack cases on a priority basis, to ensure punishment for all culprits involved in the grisly attack, as soon as possible.

Attorney General Mahbubey Alam said he would bring the matter to the attention of the apex court, so that it would take special initiative to prepare the paper-book  for the cases swiftly.

“Soon after completing the paper-book, we will take an initiative for holding the hearing on the death references,” the chief law officer of the state said.

“The BDR carnage cases got special consideration in the preparation of their paper-book. We want the apex court to similarly give special priority to preparing the paper-book for the August 21 grenade attack cases,” he added.

On January 13, the High Court accepted hearing appeals filed by the convicted in the two cases filed for the August 21 grenade attack.

A High Court bench of Justice M Enayetur Rahim and Justice Md Mostafizur Rahman gave the order.

“The High Court after accepting the appeals for hearing, stayed the lower court order that fined the convicts and asked it to send up the case documents,” Assistant Attorney General Eusuf Mahmud Morshed told newsmen on that day.

On October 10 last year, Judge Shahed Nuruddin of Dhaka’s Speedy Trial Tribunal-1 delivered the verdict. The 19 people sentenced to death include former state minister for home, Lutfozzaman Babar, ex-deputy minister Abdus Salam Pintu, former NSI chief Brig Gen (retd) Rezzaqul Haider Chowdhury, former DGFI director Brig Gen (retd) Abdur Rahim, and owner of Hanif Paribahan, Mohammad Hanif.

The 19 people sentenced to life imprisonment include BNP acting chairman Tarique Rahman, Khaleda Zia’s former political secretary Harris Chowdhury, and former BNP lawmaker, Qazi Shah Mofazzal Hossain Kaikobad.

The judge also made 12 observations on the background, motive, and consequences of the attack targeting the incumbent Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, then opposition leader,  who narrowly escaped, but not without injury.

18 of the 49 convicts are still on the run. Among them, one of the prime accused Tarique Rahman is absconding in London.

The government, however, is trying to bring the fugitives back to the country, sources said.

Trial Timeline

June 11, 2008 - Criminal Investigation Department (CID) presses charges against 22 people, including Huji leader Mufti Hannan, and former deputy minister Abdus Salam Pintu

June 22, 2009 - The prosecution files petitions for further investigation

August 3, 2009 - Dhaka Speedy Trial Tribunal-1 orders further investigation

March 2011 - The tribunal starts trying 52 accused in two cases filed with Motijheel police station

July 3, 2012 - CID submits two separate supplementary charge sheets in the cases against 30 people, after a fresh investigation into the matter. The Court recorded 225 testimonies of 511 prosecution witnesses and 20 defence witnesses in the cases.

September 18, 2018- the court set the date for delivery of the verdict after 119 days of hearing arguments in the cases.

October 10, 2018- Judge Shahed Nuruddin of Dhaka’s Speedy Trial Tribunal-1 delivers the verdicts