A Dhaka court on Monday granted bail to 10 staff members of Biman Bangladesh Airlines a year after they were arrested over a technical glitch which forced a plane carrying Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina into making an emergency landing.
On November 27 last year, the Budapest-bound VVIP Biman flight was forced to change route and land at Ashgabat International Airport in Turkmenistan after a loose nut caused oil leakage and oil pressure loss in one of the engines.
Judge Subrata Ghosh Shuvo of Dhaka Chief Metropolitan Magistrate’s Court issued the bails on Monday after hearing the petitions filed by the counsels of the accused.
The magistrate said they were granted bail as the case investigation officer, Assistant Commissioner Mahbubul Alam of the Counter Terrorism and Transnational Crime (CTTC) unit, on Thursday submitted the probe report clearing all the accused of the charges.
According to Alam, no evidence of foul play or sabotage was found and the charges levelled against the 11 accused were not proved during the investigation, even though three other probes - conducted separately by the Ministry of Civil Aviation and Tourism, Biman and the Civil Aviation Authority of Bangladesh - had concurred that the problem was due to human negligence.
The 11 Biman officials are: Chief Engineer (production) Debesh Chowdhury; Chief Engineer (quality assurance) SA Siddique; Principal Engineer (maintenance and system control) Billal Hossain; technical staff SM Rokonuzzaman, Samiul Huque, Lutfar Rahman and Milon Chandra Das; technicians Siddiqur Rahman and Jakir Hossain; engineer (technician) Shah Alam; and engineer (officer) Nazmul Haque.
Of them, only Nazmul secured bail from the High Court earlier.
The affected Boeing 777 aircraft was carrying 99 passengers including the premier, and a 28-strong crew when it was forced to divert.
The aircraft left for Budapest more than four hours later, after the onboard flight engineers finished the repairs.
On December 20, Biman Director (engineering and material management) MAM Asaduzzaman had filed the case under the Special Powers Act with Airport police, accusing nine engineers who had also been suspended based on preliminary findings.
Seven of them were arrested by police the next day and the rest later. Afterwards, two more were included in the list of accused in the case. All of them were jailed.
The case was later transferred to the CTTC unit for further probing.