The prosecution in the August 21 attack cases yesterday told a Dhaka court that BNP Senior Vice-Chairman Tarique Rahman had assured Huji leader Mufti Abdul Hannan and his accomplices of all administrative assistance in carrying out the grenade attack on an Awami League rally in 2004.
Syed Rezaur Rahman, chief prosecutor in the August 21 attack cases, said this while reading out the testimony of Abdul Kahar Akond, investigation officer of the cases.
Kahar, special superintendent of the Criminal Investigation Department (CID), was also the 225th and last prosecution witness in the cases.
Judge Shahed Nuruddin of the Speedy Trial Tribunal-1 of Dhaka heard the arguments of the prosecution for around three-hours.
The court also asked the defence lawyers to get ready for placing their closing arguments after completion of the arguments of the prosecution.
Meanwhile, the chief prosecutor told reporters that he would wrap up his closing arguments today, over two months after he started.
During the hearing yesterday, Rezaur said a meeting was held at the Hawa Bhaban in the capital’s Banani in presence of Tarique, the elder son of former prime minister Khaleda Zia, where he assured the Huji men of all assistance for carrying out the attack.
The Hawa Bhaban, then political office of the BNP chairperson, was widely considered as the alternative centre of power during the tenure (2001-2006) of the BNP-Jamaat government.
Another meeting was held at the Dhanmondi home of accused Abdus Salam Pintu, also a former deputy minister, before the attack, the prosecutor told the court.
The aim of the attack was to kill then AL chief Sheikh Hasina and her party men to eliminate its leadership.
After the attack, Tajuddin was provided with a fake passport with the name “Badal”, Rezaur said.
Khaleda’s nephew and private secretary Saiful Islam Duke, his brother-in-law and then DGFI official Lt Col Saiful Islam Joarder along with another DGFI official Maj Gen ATM Amin had helped Tajuddin flee the country on October 10, 2006, he added.
Twenty-four leaders and activists of the AL and its associate bodies were killed and over 300 others suffered splinter injuries in the August 21 attack. Among the dead was Ivy Rahman, then Mohila AL president and also the wife of late president Zillur Rahman.
Many of the injured became crippled for life. Sheikh Hasina, then opposition leader, narrowly escaped the attack with ear injuries.
A case was filed with Motijheel Police Station the following day. But the CID submitted two charge sheets, one for killing and injuring people and another for supplying and using grenades. The second charge sheet was filed under the Explosive Substances Act.
During the BNP-Jamaat rule until October 2006, the investigators were out to misdirect the probe to protect the real culprits, according to the prosecution.
The CID failed to submit the charge sheets in the cases although then government leaders had claimed several times that the probe was about to be completed and everything would be revealed.
During the tenure of the last caretaker government, charge sheets in the August 21 attack cases were filed against 22 people, including Abdus Salam Pintu and 21 Huji men, including Mufti Hannan.
However, the investigators could not identify the mastermind and the sources of the grenades used in the attack, prosecution said.
A further probe into the cases was launched in 2009 to find out the source of the grenades.
A supplementary charge sheet was submitted against 30 accused, including Tarique, former state minister for home Lutfozzaman Babar and former Jamaat secretary general Ali Ahsan Mohammad Mojaheed, in July 2011.
In March 2012, the tribunal indicted 52 accused, including Tarique, on murder charges while 41 accused were indicted in the case filed under the Explosive Substances Act.
The 11 other accused in the murder case were not implicated in the explosive case. They include three former IGPs, three ex-CID officials, two former senior police officials, Khaleda’s nephew Duke, and two former army officers ATM Amin and Saiful Islam Joarder.
Jamaat leader Mojaheed has already been executed for committing crimes against humanity during the Liberation War while Mufti Hannan and another Huji man were executed in the case filed over the grenade attack on former British high commissioner to Bangladesh Anwar Chowdhury in Sylhet.
Their names were dropped from the cases.
Of the 49, eight accused, including three former IGPs, are now on bail while 18 including Tarique are absconding.
Twenty-three, including Lutfozzaman Babar and Abdus Salam Pintu, are now behind bars.