The long-drawn-out trial of the August 21 grenade attack cases is likely to end next week as a Dhaka court has asked the prosecution and defence counsels to complete their closing arguments on legal points within two days.
After hearing the prosecution's rebuttal arguments against defence arguments for the fourth day yesterday, Judge Shahed Nuruddin of Speedy Trial Tribunal-1 set September 17-18 for hearing the closing arguments.
The tribunal will then set the date for delivery of judgment in the cases.
At the outset of the hearing yesterday, Special Public Prosecutor Abu Abdullah Bhuiyan cited different rulings and decisions of higher courts in Bangladesh, India and Pakistan. He said the rulings and decisions would help the court deliver its verdict in the cases.
The lawyer said conspiracy and other charges brought against BNP acting chairman Tarique Rahman and 48 others were proved beyond any doubt and they deserve the highest punishment for their involvement in the grenade attack.
At least 24 people were killed and around 300 injured in the grisly attack on an Awami League rally in the capital's Bangabandhu Avenue on August 21, 2004. Sheikh Hasina, the then opposition leader in parliament, narrowly escaped the attack with an ear injury.
Following the incident, two cases were filed against 49 people with Motijheel Police Station, one for murder and another under the Explosive Substances Act.
Trial of the cases had begun at the same tribunal in 2012. The court is conducting the trial of both the cases simultaneously.
Yesterday, prosecutor Akram Uddin Shyamal presented several rulings, including two of Indian courts, before the tribunal. He said the rulings would help the court make a judgment on the criminal conspiracy charges.
Syed Rezaur Rahman, chief prosecutor of the cases, placed his argument on the legality of carrying out a further investigation into the cases and recording a second confessional statement of an accused, Mufti Abdul Hannan.
Refuting defence arguments, Rezaur said a further investigation by the Criminal Investigation Department and recording of the second confessional statement were done legally and there was no bar to doing so.
As the chief prosecutor could not complete placing his arguments, the tribunal set September 17-18 for completing the closing arguments by the prosecution and defence.
Of the 49 accused in the two cases, 23 people, including former BNP ministers Lutfozzaman Babar and Abdus Salam Pintu, are in jail; eight, including three former inspectors general of police, are on bail; and 18, including Tarique Rahman, on the run.
Hannan, a leader of banned militant outfit Harkat-ul-Jihad al-Islami Bangladesh (Huji), was executed last year in the case filed over the grenade attack on the then British high commissioner Anwar Choudhury in Sylhet on May 21, 2004.