Dhaka: The appeal and death references of smuggling 10 trucks loaded with weapons at the Chittagong Urea Fertiliser Ltd. (CUFL) jetty for the separatist group, United Liberation Front of Asom (ULFA), have now been scheduled for hearing on October 18, said the Bangladesh High Court bench of Justices Shahidul Karim and Fatima Najib.
The Supreme Court and the High Court bench of Bangladesh have fixed a date for hearing of death reference and appeal in a case on smuggling 10 trucks loaded with weapons in CUFL jetty in Chittagong.
The 10 trucks full of weapons were seized in April 2, 2004, despite suspected efforts of certain “influential quarters” for their safe passage to ULFA in the presence of its military wing chief Paresh Barua during the Bangladesh Nationalist Party-Jamaat coalition government.
As many as 13 others, including Jamaat chief and the then Bangladesh Industries Minister Matiur Rahman Nizami and the then State Home Minister Lutfozzaman Babar, have been sentenced to death for smuggling the 10 trucks.
The trucks were seized at the jetty of the CUFL near the Karnaphuli river while weapons were being loaded on them for delivery to ULFA.
As many as 4,930 sophisticated firearms of different types, 840 rocket launchers, 300 rockets, 27,020 grenades, 2,000 grenade-launching tubes, 6,392 magazines and 11.41 million bullets were recovered.
A special court in Chittagong handed the death sentence to Tareq Rahman, son of former Prime Minister Khaleda Zia, Matiur Rahman Nizami, Jamaat top leader Ali Ahsan Muzahid, Lutfuzzaman Babar and the then chief of the two intelligence agencies, Brigadier General (retd) Abdur Rahim and Major General (retd) Rezzakul Haidar Chy.
The court will also announce its verdict on Bangladesh Nationalist Party de facto chief Tarique Rahman, staying in London for more than a decade to evade punishment after conviction for his involvement in the August 24, 2004, grenade attack on Chief Minister Sheikh Hasina leaving the latter injured and killing 30 Bangladesh Awami League leaders and activists.
Tareq Zia and Lutfuz Zaman Babar, the paid agents of Inter-Services Intelligence, are appealing against the death sentence in both cases.
Tareq met with �D’ company in Dubai, before the grenade attack on Hasina, said close associates of Tareq to IANS requesting anonymity.
Following the upcoming election in 2023, the opposition BNP and its ally Jamaat-e-Islami have been embroiled in fresh controversy.
Officials familiar with the investigation said their extended probe found Chinese firm NORINCO to have produced the alleged seized weapons.
The ship of QC Shipping that carried the illegal consignment to Bangladeshi territory is owned by Pakistan paid BNP leader and war criminal Salauddin Quader Choudhry.
On October 1, 2013, S.Q. Chy was convicted of genocide, killing thousands of Hindus, including legendary businessman and Ayurvedic legend Nutan Chandra Singha in 1971, who saved several hundred academicians, including Anisuzzaman, Padma Bhushan awardee, and sentenced to death by the ICT. He was hanged on November 22, 2015.
“Like the (Hindu) Goddess Durga, this case too has 10 hands, which are very strong. Very influential quarters of the then BNP-led government were involved in it who should be brought to justice with caution,” Chief prosecution lawyer of the case, Kamal Uddin said before the court.
The case documents and judgment have reached the High Court as death reference from the lower court while several convicts in the case have filed separate appeals with the HC challenging the earlier verdict against them.
Fourteen people were sentenced to life imprisonment and seven years each under two separate sections of the Arms Act. Two of the convicted, Jamaat Islami Chief (Amir), Matiur Rahman Nizami. Another top Jamaat leader Ali Ahsan Muzahid was sentenced to death when convicted in the 1971 war crime trials for genocide and atrocities with Pakistan Army.
Another convicted former top Intelligence official Abdur Rahim died of Covid-19.
The appeal by those convicted will bring back the focus on the active patronage to weapons and terrorism during the BNP-Jamaat alliance government in 2001 and 2006.
Since the Chittagong arms seizure was followed by the deadly grenade attack on Sheikh Hasina, the then opposition leader during a meeting before a rally of Awami League within five months, an attack that nearly killed Hasina, clearly exposes the unholy and coveted alliance Tarique Rahman held with Pak-paid Jamaat to destroy the secular community and India-Bangladesh friendship.
However, Assam Chief Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma on Wednesday credited Chief Minister Hasina for taking adequate steps that curbed militancy in his state.
Lauding Hasina’s efforts, the Assam Chief Minister said crackdown by Hasina’s government on the insurgent group ULFA inside Bangladesh has saved Assam.