Assasssination of Bangabandhu: Where are the five fugitive killers?
Twelve years have gone by since the trial of our history's most tragic assassination has been completed, but the five self-confessed killers could not be brought back to the country for execution.
The government sent letters to multiple Interpol member countries on August 10, directing them to take steps to bring back the five killers of Bangabandhu, but they are yet to receive any positive response.
The five fugitives are Khandaker Abdur Rashid, Shariful Haque Dalim, Nur Chowdhury, Rashed Chowdhury and Moslehuddin Khan.
According to National Central Bureau (Interpol) of the Police Headquarters, whereabouts of two of the five convicted killers have been confirmed.
It is known that Nur Chowdhury is in Canada and Rashed Chowdhury in the US, while the authorities have a hunch about the whereabouts of the other three, but it is not yet confirmed.
The Interpol issued a red notice regarding Nur Chowdhury on August 31, 2009, which was extended for five years on March 25, 2019. Similarly, a red notice was issued about Rashed Chowdhury on January 7, 2009, which was extended on July 26, 2018 for five years.
The officials at National Central Bureau told The Daily Star that Interpol thinks Dalim is probably hiding either in Pakistan or Libya. A red notice issued for him was extended on January 27, 2019.
Meanwhile, they said it is suspected that Khandaker Abdur Rashid is perhaps in Libya or Zimbabwe and there is an ongoing red notice about him, which was extended on March 25, 2019 for five years.
Mosleh Uddin might also be in Pakistan, authorities think. Interpol extended an ongoing red notice about him on December 4, 2018.
Contacted, assistant inspector-general Mohiul Islam of NCB told The Daily Star that they are in constant communication with the Interpol headquarters and Interpol Canada regarding the extradition of Nur and Rashed. Upon extradition, they will be executed.
AIG Islam said they are also in close communication with the other countries where they suspect the three other killers are hiding.
A highly-placed source said a committee tasked with extraditing the convicted killers held its first meeting in September 10 last year.
Bangladesh has activated its missions abroad in countries where the killers are presumed to have been hidden, Foreign Minister Dr AK Abdul Momen said on Friday, reported Bangladesh Sangbad Sangstha.
"Particular Bangladesh missions abroad, where they (fugitives) are assumed to be hiding, have been asked to keep close contacts with security and intelligence agencies of the host countries to track them down on the basis of our lead information," he told BSS.
According to BSS, Momen told the Bangladeshi communities in the US and Canada to launch pressure on the authorities of those countries to deport the killers.
Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina-led government had taken a crucial step in ensuring justice by executing convicted killer Abdul Majed within Mujib Borsho.
Abdul Majed, who had long been hiding abroad, was hanged on April 12 last year while five other convicts -- Syed Farooq Rahman, Sultan Shahriar Rashid Khan, Bazlul Huda, AKM Mohiuddin Ahmed and Mohiuddin Ahmed -- were executed on January 28, 2010.
Convicted killer Aziz Pasha died in Zimbabwe in 2001.
The US government has reportedly reopened a case against Rashed, signalling that he could face deportation and death sentence, according to a report published in Politico.
Law Minister Anisul Huq narrated the reasons behind the government's failure to bring the five absconding killers back to the country and constitute the commission.
"It's still very difficult to bring the killers of Bangabandhu back to the country because they had been established in strong positions politically, officially and financially by the beneficiaries of the killing -- Ziaur Rahman, HM Ershad and Khaleda Zia," he told The Daily Star on August 6.
"They had created obstacles for 21 years," said the minister, who is also the principal state counsel of Bangabandhu murder case.
He said the governments led by Ziaur Rahman, Ershad and Khaleda had not only given political support and shelter to the killers, but also patronised them and made their positions stronger in foreign countries.
"He [Ziaur Rahman] had given jobs to the killers to different foreign offices," he said.
The law minister said Ershad had allowed Farooq and Rashid to run a political party named Freedom Party and Khaleda Zia had made them lawmakers.
"The Sheikh Hasina-led government has been trying to bring the absconding killers to the country one after another. We are satisfied with the progress made so far, but, we will not be completely satisfied until every last killer is brought back to the country and executed," he said.
The law minister said the policy makers in the government could not hold physical meetings to fix the framework of the commission, due to the ongoing pandemic.
"We must constitute the commission once the situation is normal," he added.
On November 19, 2009, the Appellate Division of the Supreme Court upheld the High Court verdict, confirming capital punishment of 12 killers of Bangabandhu and his family members.
"The accused persons by their barbarous act proved that the object of the conspiracy was not to oust the president from power, but their object was to eliminate the entire family and it was an act of exceptional depravity on the part of the accused persons, an unparalleled act in the annals of crime committed in the country," the Appellate Division observed.
"The accused persons brutally killed such a leader who is none but the Father of the Nation. They even did not spare the son of the president who was below 10 years old. They killed him in such a brutal manner that the nation was shocked and dumbfounded."
"There was no explanation why they killed the three women. They committed a crime against humanity by killing a child and three innocent women who were unarmed."