But the trial is yet to start as the indictment hearing could not be held till now on the four dates due to time extension petitions submitted by the defence lawyers
Three years have elapsed since the blast at Hotel Olio International at Panthapath on August 15, 2017, National Mourning Day. But the trial in this case is yet to start.
The case is now pending with the Anti-Terrorism Special Tribunal in Dhaka against 13 men of the banned militant outfit Jamaat-ul-Mujahideen Bangladesh (JMB).
Court sources said the case was shifted to the tribunal from the Dhaka Chief Metropolitan Magistrate’s Court on December 9, 2019. Since then, the court has fixed four dates — December 26, 2019, and January 21, March 15 and April 28 of this year — for indictment hearings in the case.
But the trial is yet to start as the indictment hearing could not be held till now on the four dates due to time extension petitions submitted by the defence lawyers.
Special Public Prosecutor Md Golam Sharuar Khan Zakir told Dhaka Tribune that the prosecution was trying its best to have the trial begin in this case but it was delayed as court proceedings were suspended owing to the Covid-19 pandemic.
However, the state lawyer hoped that the trial would be completed soon.
People behind the blast
On December 9, 2019, the Counter Terrorism and Transnational Crime (CTTC) unit of DMP submitted a charge sheet accusing 13 militants of New JMB in the case.
The 13 accused are Akram Hossain Khan Niloy, his parents Abu Turab Khan and Sadia Hosna Lucky, sister Tazrin Khanom Shuvo, Tanvir Yasin Karim, Tanvir’s wife Humayra Jakir alias Nabila, Abdullah alias Aichan Kabiraj alias Rafik, Abul Kashem Fakir alias Abu, Nazmul Hasan Mamun, Tarek Mohammad alias Adnan, Lulu Sarder alias Shahid, Kamrul Islam Khan alias Shakil, and Abdullah.
Meanwhile, another charge sheet was submitted against the teenager Tajul Islam, one of the accused in the case, under the Children Act.
Of the accused, Tazrin, Sadia, Humayra, Abu Turab, Tanvir and Abdullah are currently out on bail, while the rest are in prison.
The blast on August 15, 2017
According to the case statement, Saiful Islam, 21, a member of New JMB, blew himself up on August 15, 2017, at Hotel Olio International, only about 300 metres away from Bangabandhu Memorial Museum, the historic house in Dhanmondi where the Father of the Nation was brutally killed along with most of his family members on August 15, 1975.
The incident took place just three hours after President Md Abdul Hamid, Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina and other top functionaries of the government had paid their respects to Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman at the museum in Dhanmondi on National Mourning Day.
The bomber’s actual target was the National Mourning Day procession but he was forced to detonate early when the CTTC cordoned off the hotel.
CTTC officials said that cornered by the anti-militancy drives after the Holey Artisan Bakery attack on July 1, 2016, New JMB had planned the attempted attack on the National Mourning Day procession.
Niloy, the then New JMB chief, planned the attack and instructed Saiful to take position at Olio Hotel. The militants used the dark web and a Telegram channel to communicate amongst themselves.
A day before the CTTC raid at the Hotel, the outfit’s explosives expert, suspect Mamun, supplied explosives to Saiful in the capital’s Abdullahpur area. Later, Saiful checked into the hotel with a suicide vest to carry out an attack on the crowd joining the August 15 mourning programme.
According to the charge sheet, Niloy was the mastermind behind the blast, while Tanvir, Abu Turab, Sadia, Humayra and Tazreen were financiers. Abdullah, Kamrul, Tareque and Abdullah alias Aichan face charges of cooperating with and sheltering the militants.
Talking to this correspondent, Advocate Subrata Debnath, counsel for four of the accused, said the case was now pending with the court due to the pandemic. But the trial will start soon as court proceedings have now resumed.
The defence lawyer claimed that his four clients were innocent and would be acquitted of the charges against them through the trial.