BNP Chairperson Khaleda Zia is in jail now after being convicted in the Zia Orphanage Trust corruption case. In the same case, her elder son Tarique Rahman has been slapped with a jail term for 10 years. Meanwhile, two cases filed over the sensational August 21 grenade attack are also in the final stages.
All eyes are now on what punishment will be meted out to BNP acting chairperson Tarique Rahman and all other heavyweight accused in the party. Legal experts say if the allegations are proved, the accused will be given capital punishment. The lawyers expect that the trial proceedings of the case will be completed in March-April this year. The prosecution lawyers have said though the trial proceedings in the 14-year-old case were slow in the early stages, they have gained pace in recent times.
State counsels have already completed the arguments after hearing testimony from 245 witnesses. Claiming that the charges have been proved, the prosecution has demanded the highest punishment for all the 49 accused in the case. The judge will decide the day for the verdict once the arguments are over. The judge is now taking arguments three days - Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday -- a week.
The defense started its arguments on January 2. In the meantime, the government-appointed lawyers have finished their arguments on behalf of the fugitive accused including Tarique Rahman. The arguments presentation for the other accused is underway.Justice Shahed Nuruddin of the Dhaka Speedy Trial Tribunal-1 has been presiding over the case at a temporary court set up in Old Dhaka.
Two cases were filed over the deadly grenade attack on an Awami League rally in Dhaka on August 21, 2004. Of 52 accused, 23 are behind bars, including former state minister for home Lutfozzaman Babar, and BNP leader Abdus Salam Pintu.
Former IGPs Ashraful Huda, Sahudul Haq and Khoda Boksh Chowdhury, Lt Commander (retd) Saiful Islam Duke, former investigation officers Special Superintendant Ruhul Amin and Senior ASP Munshi Atikur Rahman, and ASP Abdur Rashid are among eight who are out on bail.
Meanwhile, 18 are still absconding, including Tarique Rahman, BNP leader Harish Choudhury, former MP Kazi Shah Mofazzal Hossain Kaikobad, Maj Gen (retd) ATM Amin, and Lt Col (retd) Saiful Islam Joarder.In addition, three other accused- Jamaat leaders Ali Ahsan Mohammad Mojaheed, Huji chief Mufti Hannan and his associate Sharif Saidul Alam Bipul - have already been executed after their convictions in a war crime and grenade attack cases respectively.
The grisly attack on the Awami League rally left 24 people, including Ivy Rahman, wife of late President Zillur Rahman, dead and more than 300 others injured.Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, the then opposition leader, survived the attack with a serious hearing impairment.
Syed Rezaur Rahman, chief state counsel in the case, told The Asian Age, "We have been able to present 225 witnesses in court. We hope that we have proved the charges in the arguments we have given to the court after reviewing the statements of the witnesses."
The state prosecution hopes that the court will award the maximum punishment to all the accused in the much-talked about case," he said." If there is exemplary punishment in such a case then no one else will get the courage to face such a terrible crime. "
Speaking to The Asian Age, Public Prosecutor Mosharraf Hossain Kajal said: "The way we have presented the evidence and arguments, we expect that the accused will be meted out the highest punishment." The prosecutor said that the trial of the cases may be completed by April."
-Fardaus Mobarok, AA
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