Hearing on death references of the persons awarded capital punishment and appeals by the accused now in jail in the 21 August grenade attack cases is yet to be held at the High Court.
The cases remain under special monitoring, so the hearing of the appeals will be held in the quickest time, hopes the state.
The speedy trial court in Dhaka, on October 10 last year sentenced 19 people, including former state minister and BNP leader Lutfozzaman Babar to death, while 19 others, including BNP’s acting chairman Tarique Rahman, to life imprisonment.
The court also awarded punishment to 11 others different prison terms.
The court delivered the verdicts in murder and explosives cases filed separately in connection with the grisly attack 15 years back, which left at least 24 dead and more than 300 others injured.
The accused who are now serving jail time made separate appeals against the verdicts.
Meanwhile, the trial court sent relevant files to the High Court (HC) for hearing of the death references.
On January 13 last year, an HC bench of Justices Enayetur Rahim and Md Mostafizur Rahman accepted the appeals and the death references for hearing, which is still under trial.
As per section 374 of the Code of Criminal Procedure (CrPC), if a lower court orders death penalty, the verdict is examined by the HC for confirmation of the punishment. This is called the death reference.
However, the hearing of the death references and the appeals of the accused will be disposed of on priority basis, said Attorney General Mahbubey Alam.
“The state side will take steps so that the hearing is held on priority basis. The grenade attack case will be disposed of in the quickest time like it was done in the Narayanganj seven-murder case,” he said.
He also said the work of preparing a paper book of the cases is going on now.
A paper book contains all the details of a case, trial proceedings, statements, evidence, verdicts and other documents, necessary for the HC to hear and dispose of death references and appeals.
“Once it is done, we will take necessary steps to start the trial,” said the chief legal advisor to the state, adding that he will take it to the notice of the Supreme Court so that the book is prepared quickly.
On the other hand, the then ruling party the BNP, claimed that the grenade attack case was a political one, and its leaders were given sentences on the political ground.
About this, Mahbubey Alam said the attack was obviously a politically motivated one and the grenade attack was launched to eliminate a political party, including its top leadership.
He said grenades were thrown at the Awami League rally from all sides. None from the then government and police high-ups went to the spot, while Maulana Tajuddin and others were allowed to leave the country immediately.
So even if the hearing starts, it will require some time to dispose of the death references and the appeals. However, everybody will be given legal opportunity, he said.
On October 10 last year, 19 people, including former state minister for home affairs Lutfozzaman Babar, former deputy minister for education Abdus Salam Pintu, former DGFI chief major general (retd) Rezzakul Haider Chowdhury, National Security Intelligence director general brigadier general (retd) Abdur Rahim and owner of Hanif Paribahan Md Hanif, were given death sentences in the murder case.
In the same case, another 19 people, including BNP’s acting chairman Tarique Rahman, former prime minister Khaleda Zia’s political secretary Harris Chowdhury and leaders and workers of banned militant outfit Harkat-ul Jihad (Huji), got life-term imprisonment.
All of these 38 accused were also sentenced to life-term imprisonment for causing grievous injuries to the grenade attack victims.
The special court of Shahed Nuruddin also found Tarique, Babar and 36 others guilty in the second case filed under the explosives substance act and handed down punishments ranging from death sentence to 20 years in prison.
Apart from Babar, Pintu, Rezzakul, Rahim and Hanif, others who were sentenced to death in the verdict include Huji-B leader Maulana Tajuddin (Abdus Salam Pintu’s brother), Huji founder Mauland Sheikh Abdus Salam, Kashmir-based militant leader Yusuf Bhatt alias Abdul Majed Bhatt (Pakistani citizen), Kashmir-based Laskar-e-Taiyebaleader Abdul Malek alias Golam Mohammad alias GM, Huji leader Maulana Shawkat Osman alias Sheikh Farid and Mohibullah alias Mofizur Rahman alias Ovi (Mufti Hannan’s brother).
The rest are Maulana Abu Sayeed alias Dr Zafar, Abdul Kalam Azad alias Bulbul, Jahangir Alam, Hafez Maulana Abu Taher (Tajuddin’s brother-in-law), Hussain Ahmed Tamim, Moinuddin Sheikh alias Mufti Moin alias Abu Zandal alias Masum Billah, Rafiqul Islam alias Sabuj alias Khaled Saifullah alias Shamim alias Rashed and Md Ujjal alias Ratan.
Besides Tarique and Harris, others who were given life-terms are former BNP lawmaker Shah Mofazzal Hossain Kaikobad, Huji leader Shahadat Ullah ewel, Maulana Abdur Rauf alias Omar Humayra alias Pir Shaheb, Maulana Sabbir Ahmed alias Hannan Sabbir, Arif Hasan Suman alias Abdur Razzak and Hafez Maulana Yahiya.
The rest include Abu Bakar alias Hafez alias Selim Hawlader, Md Ariful Islam alias Arif (former commissioner of Dhaka city corporation ward no 53), Mohibul Muttakin alias Muttakin, Md Khalil, Jahangir Alam Badar, Md Iqbal, Md Liton alias Maulana Liton, Mufti Shafiqur Rahman, Mufti Abdul Hye and Babu alias Ratul Babualias Ratul (Pintu’s brother).
In the murder case, two former inspectors general of police Md Ashraful Huda and Shahudul Haque each was handed down two-year rigorous imprisonment (RI).
Meanwhile, Lt Commander (retd) Saiful Islam Duke (Khaleda Zia’s nephew, Lt Col (retd) Saiful Islam Joarder and Maj Gen (retd) ATM Amin were given two-year imprisonment for sheltering criminals and helping Maulana Tajuddin to flee the country.
On the same accusation, former DIG Khan Sayeed Hasan andformer police super Md Obaidur Rahman Khan were also given two-year prison-term. Another two-year term was also given to each of them for destroying evidence of the cases.
In the grenade attack cases, a total of 18 convicts, including Tarique and Harris, remain fugitive. They did not get the opportunity to appeal.
The two death convicts who are absconding are Mohmmad Hanif and Maulana Tajuddin.