Liberal Democratic Party chief Col (retd) Oli Ahmed said former military dictator HM Ershad was directly involved in the killings of BNP founder and former president Ziaur Rahman and Maj Gen Manzoor.
“I have no doubt. He killed the then president Ziaur Rahman and hanged around 15 freedom fighter army officers to pave way for him to assume power,” Oli told the Dhaka Tribune.
Admitting failure to try Ershad during the BNP rule, the former minister said it was not possible because of the party’s inaction and weakness. “It was improvident,” he said.
“Every murder and misdeed should be tried. The country is going through a dismal situation since corrupt people, extortionists and killers are not being brought to justice during the tenures of different governments,” he added.
Khaleda Zia, the BNP chairperson and wife of Ziaur Rahman, recently condemned Ershad for killing her husband and Maj Gen Manzoor. Refuting the allegation, Ershad said the real killers have been doing politics with her and berated her for not trying the culprits.
“I do not have any information regarding Dr Badruddoza Chowdhury’s involvement in the killing of Zia. I will write about all these in my new book ‘Ershad: The Killer,’” Oli said regarding Ershad’s indication of Badruddoza as the culprit.
Zia was assassinated on May 29, 1981 at the Chittagong Circuit House. Maj Gen Abul Manzoor was killed within the next few days.
Ershad is the chief of the Jatiya Party and a special envoy to the prime minister. He is also the main accused in the Manzoor murder case.
To elaborate on Ershad’s involvement, Oli said: “Ershad was the chief of army at that time. Ziaur Rahman went to Chittagong on May 29, 1981 and stayed at the Circuit House. On May 28, Ershad visited the Chittagong Military Academy for no reason. He later met with Lt Col Matiur Rahman, the main killer of Ziaur Rahman, at the Officers’ Mess.
“The next day, Ziaur Rahman was assassinated brutally. The killing was led by Lt Col Matiur. His [Ershad] main aim was to seize power. He succeeded in materialising many of his dreams in this single incident.
“Ershad later gathered many army officers in Chittagong who fought many battles during the  war. Later a so-called investigation report found all those officers responsible for Zia’s killing. They were subsequently hanged. Lt Col Matiur and two other officers were killed in between the Hathazari and Fatikchhari areas when attempting to flee.”
Oli, a former army officer who also fought in the Liberation War, said: “Ershad did all this to conceal his involvement in the killing.”