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Trials of opposition alliance leaders in limbo

  • Published at 01:27 am November 30th, 2018
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File photo of Bangladesh High Court

The High Court has stayed trial for both cases since 2013

More than six years have passed since a bus was torched in front of the prime minister’s office and a series of homemade bombs were detonated near the secretariat, and still nobody has been brought to book.

Both incidents took place on April 29, 2012 during a nationwide strike demanding knowledge of the whereabouts of BNP leader M Ilias Ali and calling for the restoration of a non-party caretaker government system.

A total of 46 top leaders and activists of the-then 18-Party Alliance were accused in the case filed over the bus-torching incident.

They included BNP Secretary General Mirza Fakhrul Islam Alamgir, Senior Joint Secretary General Ruhul Kabir Rizvi, Standing Committee member Mirza Abbas, and Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) President Oli Ahmed. 

In the separate case filed over the improvised explosive blasts, a charge sheet was filed accusing Mirza Fakhrul Islam and 28 others.

Lawyers have told the Dhaka Tribune that the two cases commanded a huge amount of attention at that time as it was unusual for Bangladesh’s top politicians to be accused in cases. 

However, the High Court has stayed the trials in both cases since 2013  for a number of reasons, and public attention has gradually faded.

“The accused named in those cases moved with the High Court on several occasions following charge sheet submission,” Additional Public Prosecutor of Dhaka Metropolitan Sessions Judge’s Court Taposh Kumar Paul said. 

“As matters are now pending at the High Court, and the stay orders are still in effect, the trial court cannot do anything unless these obstacles are resolved.”

‘Politically motivated’

Advocate Sanaullah Mia, of the defence counsel, described the cases as “politically motivated”.

“These types of cases create hype and after serving the government’s purpose, nobody bothers about them,” he said.

According to the arson case document submitted by Tejgaon police, a bus was torched by culprits in front of Falcon Tower, near the prime minister’s office, at around 9pm on April 29, 2012. 

A police team, led by Sub-Inspector (SI) Md Ismail Hossain Majumder, reported that around 36 leaders of BNP, Jamaat, and their associate organizations intercepted the bus with six or seven microbuses. The bus was subsequently vandalized and torched.

SI Ismail, who is the plaintiff of the case, said the police tried to stop the attackers, but failed. 

The driver, helper, and conductor of the torched bus told investigators that top BNP leaders had instigated the arson attack, naming Mirza Fakhrul Islam Alamgir, MK Anwar, Hannan Shah, Sadeque Hossain Khoka, Ruhul Kabir Rizvi, Oli Ahmed, Khandakar Mosharraf Hossain. 

Jamaat Leader Maqbul Ahmed was also implicated.

According to the charge sheet, senior BNP leaders who were present on the spot while the bus was torched included Amanullah Aman, Mirza Abbas, Ruhul Kuddus Talukdar Dulu, Gayeswar Chandra Ray, and Barrister AM Mahbub Uddin Khokon.

Documents for the other case say people riding motorbikes detonated explosives near the secretariat’s premises before fleeing the area. 

A total of 29 BNP and opposition leaders – including 14 top and mid-level leaders – were accused in the case. 

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