Over 14 years after the deadly attack that left 24 dead and hundreds injured, Judge Shahed Nuruddin of the Speedy Trial Tribunal-1 delivered the verdict in the two cases — one for murder and another for grenade blast – around 11:30am, amid heightened security.
Earlier around 7:00am, 31 accused including Babar and Pintu were taken to the court in old Dhaka from the Kashimpur High Security Prison in Gazipur in a prison van.
A total of 24 Awami League leaders and activists, including Mohila Awami League president Ivy Rahman, were killed and more than 300 others were injured in the grisly attack on Bangabandhu Avenue. Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, who was the opposition leader in parliament at that time, narrowly escaped the attack with an ear injury.
BNP’s acting chairman Tarique Rahman, two former ministers including Babar and former top police and intelligence officials of the then BNP-led four-party alliance government were among 49 accused in the cases.
The grenade attack was carried out during the tenure of the then BNP-Jamaat-led government aiming at assassinating Hasina. The attack, one of the most shocking political crimes in the country’s history, was allegedly masterminded by some BNP leaders.
The erstwhile government had allegedly made efforts to bury the truth and protect the masterminds by derailing the investigation. It even tried to put the blame on the AL.
But fresh investigation into the cases found the involvement of the militant outfit Huji, influential leaders of the BNP and Jamaat, and a band of senior officials of the home ministry, police,
Earlier, wrapping up their arguments, the prosecution sought the highest punishment to all the accused, saying it has been able to prove all charges beyond reasonable doubt.
But the defence counsels said the prosecution failed to produce evidence to prove the charges and sought acquittal of their clients.
Directorate General of Forces Intelligence (DGFI), National Security Intelligence (NSI) and Prime Minister’s Office (PMO).
ACCUSED AND CHARGES
Charge: Conspiracy and approving the plan
Accused: Tarique Rahman, Lutfozzaman Babar, Abdus Salam Pintu, Abul Harris Chowdhury, former political secretary to prime minister Khaleda Zia, Kazi Shah Mofazzal Hossain Kaikobad, a BNP lawmaker, Brig Gen (retd) Rezzaqul Haider Chowdhury, then DGFI director, Brig Gen (retd) Abdur Rahim, then NSI DG, Mohammad Hanif, owner of Hanif Paribahan, and BNP leader Ariful Islam Arif, also a former councillor of Dhaka City Corporation.
The nine have been charged with conspiring and approving the plan of the attack executed by Huji men and their accomplices.
Charge: Grievous hurt, attempt to murder, murder, abetment & criminal liability
Accused: Huji founder Abdus Salam, Huji leaders Maulana Sheikh Farid, Maulana AbdurRouf, Maulana Abdul Hannan Sabbir, Kashmir-based Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) leader Abdul Malek alias Golam Mohammad, Pakistan-based LeT leader Yusuf Butt alias Majid Butt, Mufti Shafiqur Rahman, Mufti Abdul Hai, Hafez Maulana Yahya, Babu alias RatulBabu, Mohibullah alias Mafizur Rahman alias Ovi, Maulana Abu Sayeed alias Dr Abu Zafar, Abul Kalam Azad alias Bulbul, Jahangir Alam, Maulana Abu Taher, Shahadatullah Jewel, Hossain Ahmed Tamim, Mufti Moinuddin Sheikh alias Abu Zandal alias Masum Billah, Arif Hasan Sumon, Rafiqul Islam Sabuj, Mohammad Ujjal alias Ratan, Maulana Tajuddin, Maulana Liton, AnisulMursalin and his brother MahibulMuttakin, Md Iqbal, Maulana Abu Bakar alias Selim Howlader, Jahangir AlamBadar and Khalilur Rahman.
The twenty-nine have been charged with causing grievous hurt, attempt to murder, murder, abetment and criminal liability.