THE trial of the grenade attack that took place on August 21, 2004 on the then party in opposition Awami League and its leaders, a brutal action in view of the violence committed against a political party which left 24 people dead at a rally on Bangabandhu Avenue in Dhaka, finally crossed past its primary legal stage, with the court convicting the then state minister for home affairs, a former deputy minister and 17 others to death and the acting Bangladesh Nationalist Party chairman and 18 others to life imprisonment. The Dhaka Speedy Trial Tribunal 1, which tried both the cases — one for the murder and the other related to explosive substances — simultaneously, also sentenced the remaining 11 of the accused in the two cases to imprisonment for varying terms. The trial was a must in view of the rule of law and the furtherance of justice dispensation and it has finally happened, although in a very protracted manner, in 14 years, with changes in investigators a few times and the submission of three charge sheets, giving birth to some controversy.
The verdicts, quite obviously, elicited mixed political reactions. The Bangladesh Nationalist Party, which then presided over the government, rejected the verdicts claiming that the verdicts are a reflection of the government’s vindictiveness towards political rivals while the Awami League, which was the victim, largely welcomed them saying that the rule of law has been upheld. The prosecution which said that it was somewhat satisfied about the verdict would appeal for harsher punishment in few instances, the defence said that it was denied justice and would appeal against the verdicts. This is nothing but natural political reactions. We hope that higher courts, in the next phases of the trial that are left, would meticulously look into the grievances of both the political parties in question and would, finally, attend to the issues and deliver fairer, more credible judgements for the genuine furtherance of the rule of law.
But what remains rueful is the protracted proceedings, on all fronts, from investigation to the charge sheet submission, with the investigation, and the story, real and fictitious, about it, changing again and again with changes in ruling quarters. The introduction of Mohammad Jamal, also known as Judge Miah, made to confess to carrying out the attack, by the police administration of the day, the coming up of Harkat-ul-Jihad-al-Islami commander Mufti Abdul Hannan after his arrest in October 2005 on the scenes and two of the investigators later coming to be named accused in the cases all had roles in delaying the trial. However, as far as the verdict of the trial court is concerned, it is gravely concerning that the perpetrators of the heinous crimes succeeded to use different organisations of the state not only in carrying out the violent crimes but also to save the skins of the alleged criminals. Such a use of the state machinery to perpetrate the crimes and cover up the criminals is ominous and the government, as manager of the state, should never give indulgence to such an abuse of state power.
We, meanwhile, hope that the government will run the investigation and trial of the bomb attack on the Udichi Shilpigoshthi in the Jessore Town Hall ground in 1999, which left five people dead on the spot, and the grenade attack on a Communist Party of Bangladesh rally in Paltan Maidan in Dhaka in January 2001, which left four dead on the spot and another in hospital.
Want stories like this in your inbox?
Sign up to exclusive daily email
More Stories from Editorial