In agony, they wait for JUSTICE | Daily Star
12:00 AM, August 21, 2019 / LAST MODIFIED: 04:34 AM, August 21, 2019

August 21 grenade attack 2004

In agony, they wait for JUSTICE

  • Babar and 18 others given death penalty
  • Tarique and 18 others given life term

 

With about 1,800 splinters in her body, including two in her brain, what Mahbuba Parvin wants is quick completion of all the procedures paving the way for execution of those involved in the August 21 grenade attacks in 2004. 

“Living has been a curse for me. Those who were injured in the grenade attacks feel like dying every moment,” she said.

“I don’t know when I will die but I want to see implementation of the lower court verdict before my death,” Mahbuba, now a senior vice-president of Dhaka North Swechchhasebak League, told this newspaper on August 15. 

In the photos that appeared in newspapers after the gruesome attacks on an Awami League rally, she was seen in a blood-stained sari lying among the dead on Bangabandhu Avenue in the capital. People initially took her to be dead.

She first moved her limbs after three days in coma, and regained full consciousness after 25 days.

Like her, Rashida Akter Ruma, who is carrying 700 grenade splinters in her body, too wants quick completion of all procedures at higher courts and punishment of the convicts.

Ruma, a member of Dhaka City Mahila Awami League, said she was saddened as Tarique Rahman, who was the “key planner”, was not awarded capital punishment.  

Mahbuba and Ruma at least saw the verdict being delivered in the two cases filed over the grisly attacks that left 24 people, including Ivy Rahman, wife of late president Zillur Rahman, killed, and over 300 wounded.

AL chief Sheikh Hasina, then opposition leader, narrowly escaped death with injuries to her right ear.

But AL leaders Suranjit Sengupta and Mohammad Hanif, who were injured in the attack, and Zillur Rahman, who lost his wife, were not fortunate enough to get justice in their lifetime.

A special court in Dhaka delivered the verdict on October 10 last year.

BNP’s acting chairman Tarique Rahman and 18 others were sentenced to life in prison while former state minister for home Lutfozzaman Babar, and 18 others were given death penalty on charges of murder through criminal conspiracy.

All the 38 accused were also sentenced to life in prison for causing grievous injuries to the survivors.

With the code “Sheikh Hasina will be served a light breakfast”, some home-grown militants with the help of international militant groups launched the attack, said the court in its verdict.

“Specialised lethal weapon Arges grenades, which are used in wars, were blasted in front of the Awami League’s central office on 23 Bangabandhu Avenue in broad daylight with the help of the then state machinery,” said Speedy Trial Tribunal-1 Judge Shahed Nuruddin.

 

PRESENT STATUS

The High Court is yet to start the hearing on the death references and appeals in connection with the cases due to non-preparation of paper books.

A paper book contains all the details of a case, trial proceedings, statements, evidence, verdicts and other documents. It is necessary for the HC to hear and dispose of a death reference and an appeal.

Once the paper book is ready, an HC bench hears and disposes of its death reference and appeal.

According to the Code of Criminal Procedure (CrPC), if a lower court awards death penalty, the verdict is examined by the HC for confirmation of the punishment.

The case documents and judgment, as the death reference, reach the HC from the lower court within seven days of the verdict. 

 Contacted, Attorney General Mahbubey Alam told The Daily Star on August 6 that the HC is yet to start the hearing on death reference and appeals of the grenade attack cases as the paper books are not ready.

“It cannot be specifically said now when the High Court can start the hearing on the death references and appeals of the August 21 grenade attack cases and when the hearing will be finished and they will be disposed of,” he said.

Mohammad Saifur Rahman, special officer of the HC, told this correspondent on August 7 that the official process of preparing the paper books has been started.

“But it cannot be said at this moment when the paper books will be prepared and when the High Court will start the hearing on their death references and appeals,” he added.     

After the death reference reached the HC, the convicts, now in jail, filed separate appeals with the HC challenging the trial court verdict.

On January 13 last year, the HC bench of Justice M Enayetur Rahim and Justice Md Mostafizur Rahman accepted the appeals for hearing.

The bench also stayed part of the trial court verdict that fined the convicts of the cases.

The bench passed the order as the appeals filed by the convicts were included in its cause list, the then Assistant Attorney General Md Yousuf Mahmud Morshed had told The Daily Star.

He had also said the HC will hold the hearing on the appeals after relevant procedures are completed.

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