The 2004 attack killed 24 Awami League leaders and party members and injured 500 others
The prosecution has completed its arguments and fixed October 10 to pronounce the verdict in much talked August 21 grenade attack cases.
Judge Shahed Nuruddin of the Speedy Trial Tribunal-1 fixed the date after hearing the closing arguments.
After completing his arguments, Syed Rezaur Rahman, chief prosecutor of the cases, appealed to the court to award highest punishment to the offenders involved.
He also submitted two petitions to the court requesting the cancellation of the bail of eight accused, including three inspectors general of police: Ashraful Huda, Shahudul Haque and Khoda Baksh Chowdhury, and send them to jail.
The lawyer said the grenade attack on the Awami League rally on Bangabandhu Avenue on August 21 of 2004 was pre-planned.
None of the accused was implicated in the cases politically, they were brought under trial on specific charges, he further said.
At least 24 people were killed and around 500 injured in the grisly attack.
“The conspiracy over the attack was hatched in 10 places including Tarique Rahman’s notorious Hawa Bhaban, Chief Prosecutor Syed Rezaur Rahman said.
“The grenade attack was carried out aiming to kill Sheikh Hasina and wipe out the leadership of Awami League,” he added.
“A total of 15 Arges grenades were used in the attack, of which four were found intact. But the authorities without bothering to get permission of the court destroyed these important evidences.”
“There is no evidence against the accused. No one can be punished on suspicion. There is no evidence to give punishment of the accused.” “He will be acquitted from the charges,” one of the defence counsels SAM Shajahan said.
Earlier, a total of 225 out of 511 prosecution witnesses testified in the cases on different dates, while 20 witnesses were produced before the court by the defence.
According to case details, on August 21, 2004, assailants carried out the attack with military hardware “Arges grenades” on an anti-terrorism rally of the then main opposition Awami League while its president and incumbent Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina was visibly their prime target but narrowly escaped the assault sustaining permanent hearing impairment.
The president of the Awami League’s women front and late president Zillur Rahman’s wife Ivy Rahman were among those who died while many survivors were crippled.
Two cases-one for murder and another under the explosive substances act--were lodged with Motijheel Police Station the next day.
Later, Criminal Investigation Department (CID) senior ASP Fazlul Kabir on June 11, 2008, submitted a charge sheet in the case against 22 people including the chief of Bangladesh chapter of militant outfit Harkat-ul Jihad-al-Islami (HuJI) Mufti Hannan.
The Dhaka Speedy Trial Tribunal-1 on August 3, 2009, ordered further investigation.
In 2012, CID submitted two separate supplementary charge sheets in the cases against 30 people after a fresh investigation into the incident as the number of charge accused in the cases rose to 52.
Prosecution lawyers said during the BNP-Jamaat regime, the investigators were trying to divert the probe to a wrong direction to save the real culprits. Media reports brought to public attention the cooked-up story of Joj Mia by the then CID officials to derail the investigation.
Fifty-two people were held accused in the case while prosecution suggested an influential quarter of the then BNP regime masterminded its shocking plot engaging militant outfit HuJI and subsequently made desperate efforts to protect the assailants.
Of the 52 accused, a total of 31 including two former ministers faced the trial and are now in prison while 18 including BNP senior vice president and ex-premier Khaleda Zia’s elder son Tarique Rahman were tried in absentia.
Tarique Rahman, now in London, and 17 others including several intelligence officials were earlier declared “absconding” as they were on the run to evade justice.
Meanwhile, three including Mufti Hannan and Jamaat leader Ali Ahsan Mohammad Mojahid have been executed in other cases and their names have been dropped.
Ivy Rahman, Rafiqul Islam, Mahbubur Rashid, Abul Kalam Azad, Rezina Begum, Nasir Uddin Sardar, Atique Sarkar, Abdul Kuddus Patwari, Aminul Islam Moazzem, Belal Hossain, Mamun Mridha, Ratan Shikdar, Liton Munshi, Hasina Mamtaz Reena, Sufia Begum, Rafiqul Islam (Ada Chacha), Mostaque Ahmed Sentu, Md Hanif, Abul Kashem, Zahed Ali, Momen Ali, M Shamsuddin and Ishaque Miah.
Prominent among those suffered serious splinter injuries included Sheikh Hasina, Amir Hossain Amu, Abdur Razzak, Suranjit Sengupta, Obaidul Quader, Advocate Sahara Khatun, Mohammad Hanif, Prof Abu Sayeed, AFM Bahauddin Nasim, Nazrul Islam Babu, Awlad Hossain, Sayeed Khokon, Mahbuba Parvin, Advocate Umme Razia Kajol, Nasima Ferdous, Shahida Tarek Dipti, Rasheda Akhter Ruma, Hamida Khanam Moni, Engineer Selim, Ruma Islam, Kazi Moazzem Hossain and Mamun Mallick.
Tarique Rahman, Shah Mofazzal Hossain Kaikobad, Mohammad Hanif, Maj Gen (retd) ATM Amin, Lt Col (retd) Saiful Islam Joarder, Babu alias Ratul Babu, Anisul Morsalin, Mohibul Muttakin, Maulana Tajuddin, Shafikur Rahman, Mufti Abdul Hai, Maulana Abu Bakar, Iqbal, Khalilur Rahman, Jahangir Alam alias Badar, Maulana Liton alias Zobair alias Delwar, Md Obaidur Rahman, Khan Syed Hasan, Harris Chowdhury.
Bail cancelled accused
Khaleda's nephew Saiful Islam Duke, former police chiefs Md Ashraful Huda, Shahidul Huq, and Khoda Baksh Chowdhury, first three investigation officers of the case -- CID special superintendent Ruhul Amin, and two ex-CID ASPs Munshi Atiqur Rahman and Abdur Rashid -- and former DCC ward commissioner Ariful Islam.