Abdul Majed, one of the six fugitives sentenced to death for killing of the country’s founding president Sheikh Mujibur Rahman and his family members on August 15, 1975, landed in jail after his arrest in Dhaka on Tuesday.
‘The government has started the process to execute Majed since his death sentence has been upheld by the appellate court,’ said law minister Anisul Huq in a video message.
Majed, 72, who was in Bangladesh Army in August 1975, was posted at diplomatic mission in Senegal on retirement and he also served the government until 1996, when the Awami League led by Sheikh Hasina formed reassumed power after 21 years.
The home ministry in a release on Tuesday stated that Majed went into hiding in 1996, when the AL government started trial for Mujib murder.
Dhaka Metropolitan Police counter terrorism and transnational crime unit chief Monirul Islam, at about 12:30pm said that they arrested the retired army captain at Mirpur Sare Agaro at about 3:00am on ‘secret information’.
Dhaka chief metropolitan magistrate AM Zulfiqar Hayat sent Majed to Dhaka Central Jail in Keraniganj. The court rejected Majed’s prayer to say something.
Emerging from the court, assistant public prosecutor Hemayet Uddin Khan Hiron told reporters that the matter would be transferred to the sessions court for further legal proceedings.
Since Majed is a death-row convict and the case has been disposed of by the Appellate Division, Majed has only option to seek a presidential clemency, he said.
Hemayet said that in the hearing, he asked Majed where he had been hiding for about 24 years.
‘He replied that he was in Kolkata in India in the past 22-23 years and then he was caught by the law enforcers,’ Hemayet said.
He said that Majed told him in the court that he returned to Bangladesh from India on March 15 or 16.
In an application to the court, transnational crime division sub-inspector Johurul Haque stated that they intercepted the man on a rickshaw travelling ‘suspiciously’ in front of Gabtali bus terminal at about 3:45am.
During interrogation, Abdul Majed disclosed his identity, Johurul stated, adding that Majed should be remanded in jail.
Majed was not represented by any lawyer in the hearing.
While police were taking Majed to jail, journalists asked him where he had been for about 24 years. He did not reply rather claimed his innocence.
Home minister Asaduzzaman Khan in a video message said, ‘His [Majed] wife is Saleha Begum and he used to live at house 10A, road 1, Cantonment Residential Area.’
The minister said that the arrest is a gift to the nation in Mujib Year.
He said Majed was present at Mujib’s house during the killing of Mujib on August 15, 1975, along with Nur and Risaldar Moslehuddin.
‘Majed was a lieutenant then. He not only participated in the killing of Bangabandhu but also participated in the jail killing,’ he said.
Additional inspector general of prisons Colonel Md Abrar Hossain said that Majed was kept in a separate cell ‘although we are yet to get documents on his death sentence.’
Supreme Court lawyer Shishir Manir said that Majed was entitled to file leave to appeal against his sentence under Article 103 of the constitution as it was allowed fugitive convict AKM Mohiuddin after he had been brought back from the United States in 2008.
On April 30, 2001, the High Court upheld death sentences for 12 convicts and acquitted three others.
On January 28, 2010, the jail authorities hanged five of the 12 convicts — Syed Faruque Rahman, Sultan Shahriar Rashid Khan, Mohiuddin Ahmed, AKM Mohiuddin Ahmed and Bazlur Rashid — after the Appellate Division had dismissed their appeals and review petitions.
Fugitive condemned convict Abdul Aziz Pasha reportedly died in Zimbabwe in 2001.
The rest of the convicts — Khandaker Abdur Rashid, Shariful Haque Dalim, SHMB Noor Chowdhury, MA Rashed Chowdhury and Moslehuddin Khan — are still in hiding.
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