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Three ex-IGPs freed on bail in August 21 grenade attack case
DHAKA, April 9 (BSS) - A court here today freed on bail three former inspectors general of police (IGP) and three other ex- police officers as the trial of August 21, 2004 grenade attack suspects is underway at the makeshift court complex near Dhaka Central Jail.

Three ex-police chiefs Shahudul Haque, Ashraful Huda and Khoda Box Chowdhury were freed on bail more than six months after they were sent to jail on their surrender before a court when police named them as suspects in the case under a supplementary chargesheet along with 27 others.

"They can be given bail as they are detained under bailable sections (of the Penal Code)," judge of the Speedy Trial Tribunal-1 Shahed Nuruddin said as defence lawyers pleaded for their temporary release while the cross examination of the original complainant of the case police sub- inspector Sharif Faruque Ahmed was underway.

The three others enlarged on bail were retired police superintendent (SP) Ruhul Amin, and senior assistant SPs Munshi Atiqur Rahman and Abdur Rashid.

The bail order came as the defense lawyers sought temporary release of seven suspects with the rest one being Harkatul Jihad (HuJI) leader Maulana Abu Taher, whose prayer was rejected since he was accused of non-bailable murder and explosive charges in the case.

The six police officers were charged with negligence in duty, abetting the crime and destroying the evidence of the grenade attack in which 24 people were killed and nearly 500 injured. The case's original plaintiff was being grilled as the court earlier ordered his reappearance since the defense counsels wanted to re-examine 12 of the witnesses including him though they testified and were cross- examined earlier.

The lawyers for the accused said their ex-examination was needed as the supplementary charge sheet incorporated a number of high profile suspects.

They included BNP chief Begum Khaleda Zia's elder son and party vice president Tarique Rahman, ex-state minister for home Lutfuzzaman Babar, Jamaat-e-Islami secretary genral Ali Ahsan Mohammad Mojahid, ex-premier Begum Khaleda Zia's political secretary Haris Chowdhury and several senior police and intelligence officials.

The hearing was adjourned till April 15 at the end of the court hours today while the original plaintiff's examination was underway and the defense counsels were expected to continue grilling him on the next date of hearing.

The court last month indicted "fugitive" Tarique Rahman and 29 others on charges of attacking the Awami League rally on August 21, 2004 when Awami League president and incumbent Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina narrowly survived but sustained a permanent hearing impairment.

Under the court order Rahman and 18 others are being tried in absentia and declared "absconding" while 33 out of 52 suspects are facing the trial in person.

Babar and 32 others detained were present on the dock and escorted to the courtroom under heavy security vigil in the prison van from the nearby downtown Dhaka Central Jail and other prisons.

The intelligence officials made suspects in the case were former directors general of National Security Intelligence (NSI) ex- brigadier Abdur Rahim and ex-major general Rezzakul Haidar Chowdhury, who subsequently became the chief of the agency, ex- DGFI director retired major general ATM Amin, former NSI director ex-lieutenant colonel Saiful Islam Joardar and ex- premier Begum Khaleda Zia's nephew and private secretary- 2 ex- lieutenant commander Saiful Islam Duke.

Banned militant outfit harkatul Jihad Bangladesh (HuJI) leaders and operatives named in the chargesheet included Maulana Sheikh Abdus Salam who later floated a new outfit called IDP, Maulana Abdul Malek, Maulana Shawkat Osman alias Sheikh Farid and Mufty Shafiqur Rahman, Ratul Babu and Indian national and Pakistan-based LET leader Abdul Majed Bhat.

The attack was staged when the BNP partnered with Jamaat-e Islami was in power and the then administration had declared Taka 1 crore reward for tips on the attack when the original investigation was conducted under Babar's direct supervision.

Twenty people including a vagabond called Judge Mian, a student and an Awami League activist were arrested but Awami League accused that a section of the then BNP-Jamaat government masterminded the attack.

The situation prompted the subsequent military backed interim government to order a fresh investigation into the case and the delayed police charge sheet was filed three and a half years after the attack.

The supplementary chargesheet, however,was submitted last year following the extra investigation made into the case in line
with a court order.
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