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August 21 grenade attack

Hearing on death references, convicts’ appeal begins

Published : 05 Dec 2022 09:29 PM | Updated : 06 Dec 2022 03:21 PM

The High Court has started hearing on the death references and appeals of the convicts in two cases filed over the grenade attack on an Awami League rally at Bangabandhu Avenue in the capital on August 21 in 2004.

The hearing began at the HC bench of Justice Sahidul Karim and Justice Md Mostafizur Rahman on Monday.

Attorney General AM Amin Uddin gave his statement on the death references at the HC bench. He said that the hearing on the death references and appeals in the August 21 grenade attack cases has begun. It may not be completed this year. Hopefully it will end early next year, he added. “We hope that the judgement of the judicial court will be upheld in the higher court.” 

In response to a question about BNP senior vice chairman Tarique Rahman who was sentenced to life in this case, the Attorney General said that his issue will not come here as he has not filed appeal.

A Dhaka court on October 10 in 2018 sentenced 19 people, including former state minister for home affairs Lutfozzaman Babar, to death in the August 21 grenade attack cases. 

The others who were sentenced to death are the-then DGFI Director Major General (retd) Rezzakul Haider Chowdhury, the-then NSI Brigadier General (retd) Abdur Rahim, Mohammad Hanif, Mohammad Rafiqul Islam, Sheikh Abdus Salam, Abdul Mazed, Maulana Shawkat Osman, Mahibullah alias Mafizur Rahman, Maulana Abu Taher, Maulana Abu Sayeed, Mohammad Jahangir Alam, Abul Kalam Azad, Mainuddin Sheikh alias Abu Zandal, Ujjal alias Ratan, Hossain Ahmed Tanim, Sheikh Abdus Salam and Abdul Malek.

All of the condemned convicts were also fined Tk 1 lakh each.

Tarique Rahman, the eldest son of BNP chairperson Khaleda Zia, and 18 others were sentenced to life in prison.

On October 28 in 2018, the case documents along with the judgement copy was sent to the High Court for it to approve the death sentence of the convicts.

The death reference wing of the High Court scrutinized and prepared the paperbook of the respective case, which implies the case is ready for hearing.

On August 16 in 2021, the paperbook of the grenade attack case reached the Supreme Court.

Meanwhile, the High Court on January 13 in 2019 accepted appeals filed by the convicts in the two cases over the August 21 grenade attack for hearing.

On August 21 in 2004, the grenade attack was carried out on the Awami League rally when the BNP-Jamaat alliance was in power. Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, then leader of the opposition, was apparently the target. Sheikh Hasina, however, narrowly escaped death with injuries to her right ear. 

At least 13 grenades were thrown from the rooftops of a nearby building soon after Sheikh Hasina had finished her speech at the rally.

A total of 24 Awami League leaders and workers, including the-then Mohila Awami League president and late President Zillur Rahman’s wife Ivy Rahman, were killed and 500 others were injured.

Two cases -- one under the Explosive Substances Act and another for murder -- were filed in connection with the grenade attack.

However, the-then BNP-led government formed an investigation committee comprising of High Court Justice Jainul Abedin on August 22 in 2004.

As the Criminal Investigation Department (CID) of police was later assigned to deal with the cases, they made a cooked-up story of Joj Mia and arrested him with 20 other people in connection with the incident. Joj Mia was arrested from his residence at Senbag upazila in Noakhali on June 9 in 2005 and later he was taken into a 17-day police remand.

During the remand period, CID collected a false confession from Joj Mia, in which he said that he had taken part in the grenade attack in exchange of Tk 5000 following the orders of his big brothers.

In 2007, an interim government decided to reinvestigate the Joj Mia case.

On June 11 in 2008, CID completed the fresh investigation and submitted two separate charge-sheets in the two cases, accusing 22 people, including Harkat-ul-Jihad-al-Islami operations commander Mufti Abdul Hannan and Abdus Salam Pintu, where Joj Mia was proven not guilty.

A Dhaka court on August 3 in 2009 ordered further investigation into the cases following petitions filed by the prosecution after the Awami League came to the power.

In July of 2011, a supplementary charge-sheet was submitted accusing 30 more people, including Tarique Rahman, Lutfozzaman Babar, Abul Harris Chowdhury and Jamaat leader Ali Ahsan Mohammad Mojaheed.

Of the charge-sheeted accused, Jamaat-e-Islami’s secretary general Ali Ahsan Mohammad Mojaheed, and militant leaders Mufti Abdul Hannan and Sharif Shahedul Alam alias Bipul--were dropped from the cases as they had been executed after convictions in other cases.

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