The court set September 11 for recording deposition of witnesses in the case
A Dhaka court has framed charges against six people, including sacked army Major Syed Ziaul Haque alias Major Zia, in a case lodged over the murder of blogger and writer Avijit Roy.
Judge Majibur Rahman of Dhaka Anti-terrorism Special Tribunal framed charges against the accused, initiating the trial process on Thursday.
The court set September 11 for recording deposition of witnesses in the case.
The other five accused are: Abu Siddique Sohel alias Shahab, Mozammel Hossain alias Saymon alias Shahriar, Arafat Rahman alias Siam, Shafiur Rahman Farabi, and Akram Hossain alias Abir alias Adnan.
Of them, Arafat, Saymon, and Sohel - have already given confessional statements before the court.
Among the accused, Zia and Akram are absconding, and all are members of banned militant outfit Ansar al-Islam, formerly known as Ansarullah Bangla Team.
The tribunal on April 11 accepted charge sheet filed against the six in the case and dropped name of 15 from the list of accused.
People, whose names were dropped from the list of accused, are - Sadek Ali alias Mithu, Mohammad Touhidur Rahman, Aminul Mallik, Zafran Hasan, Julhash Biswas, Abdur Sabur alias Raju Sad, Mainul Hasan Shamim, Manna Yahia alias Mannan Rahi, Abul Bashar, Mukul, Rana, Selim Hasan, Ali alias Khalil, Anik and Antu.
According to the charge sheet, Zia ordered the murder of blogger and writer Avijit Roy during the Amar Ekushey Book Fair at the Bangla Academy on the Dhaka University (DU) campus in 2015.
Investigation officer (IO) of the case and Inspector of Counter Terrorism unit Mohammad Monirul Islam filed the charge sheet on March 13. A total 34 people are set to testify in the case, and the next hearing has been scheduled for March 25.
During submission of the charge sheet, the investigation officer appealed for exempting Sadek Ali alias Mithu and 14 others from the case, according to court General Registration Officer Sub-Inspector Nizam Uddin.
Although 12 people were involved in the murder of Avijit, the identities of five militants could not be confirmed and one died during a “gunfight,” the charge sheet said.
On February 26, 2015, blogger Avijit Roy, an American citizen, was murdered near the Teacher-Student Centre (TSC) of DU while attending the Amar Ekushey Book Fair. His wife Rafida Ahmed Bonya was severely wounded in the attack.
A case regarding the incident was filed with Shahbagh police station, and Dhaka Metropolitan Police (DMP) Detective Branch (DB) began the investigation. Later, the investigation was transferred to the CTTC unit.
Three of the accused who have been arrested - Arafat, Saymon, and Sohel - have already given confessional statements before the court.
How was the plan executed?
According to court and CTTC unit sources, Saymon, Akram and Hasan were living at Elephant Road in Dhaka in 2015.
After hatching a plot to kill Avijit and conducting reconnaissance of the blogger’s house, Akram met with Zia. The sacked army major directed him to carry out the attack at the book fair.
On February 26, 2015, Sohel, Akram, Mozammel and Hasan went to the book fair and took position outside DU’s TSC, as per Zia’s instructions. Saymon then informed Mukul Rana, who was the leader of Ansar al-Islam’s operational branch.
At around 8:30 pm, Avijit arrived at the TSC with his wife, and the militants attacked them with machetes. Zia was reportedly also present at the scene and helped cover the retreat of the attackers.
Shafiur Rahman Farabi, a fundamentalist blogger, has been charged with inciting Avijit’s murder. He was arrested by the Rapid Action Battalion (RAB) two months after the murder on March 2, 2105.
“Although Farabi was not directly involved in the attack, he has been charged with incitement as his writing provoked the attack,” said a CTTC unit official.
Reasons for exemption from the case
The investigation officer filed exemption applications for Sadek Ali alias Mithu, Mohammad Touhidur Rahman, Aminul Mallik, Zafran Hasan, Julhas Biswas, Abdur Sabur alias Raju Saad, Mainul Hasan Shamim, Manna Yahiya alias Mannan Rahi, Abul Bashar, Mukul Rana, Selim, Hasan, Ali alias Khalil, Anik and Antu.
Sadek Ali, Mohammad Touhidur Rahman, Aminul Mallik, Zafran Hasan, Julhas Biswas, Abdur Sabur, and Mainul Hasan Shamim were exempted from the case as the charges against them could not be proved.
Meanwhile, Manna Yahiya and Abul Bashar died while undergoing treatment at a hospital, and Mukul Rana died during a “gunfight” in Khilgaon. The remaining five accused were exempted as their identities and addresses could not be confirmed.