OF the 12 former military officers convicted in the Bangabandhu murder case, five are already in custody; one has died in exile; and the rest are reportedly holed up in the United States, Libya, Canada, Pakistan and Kenya. The government will make fresh diplomatic efforts to have the six who are in hiding abroad extradited. As part of the efforts, Dhaka will soon write to governments of all countries seeking their help in bringing the absconding killers to justice.
Home Minister Sahara Khatoon made a global appeal to help track down the fugitives. The appeal was made at the 78th annual general meeting of Interpol in Singapore in October. The Minister said her Ministry would issue an International Red Alert to capture the fugitives.
Meanwhile, informed sources told Frontline that the process for the execution of the death sentences of the five death-row convicts (sacked Lieutenant Colonel Syed Faruque Rahman, retired Lieutenant Colonel Sultan Shahriar Rashid Khan, retired Lieutenant Colonel Muhiuddin Ahmed, retired Lieutenant Colonel A.K.M. Mohiuddin Ahmed and retired Major Bazlul Huda), who had appealed against a lower court verdict, had already begun as the jail authorities had received a copy of the Appellate Divisions verdict.
Although the process of execution of the verdict has begun, the convicts have the scope to take two legal steps. The five death-row convicts may file applications with the Appellate Division seeking revision of its verdict. Official sources said the death sentences of the five former officers might be executed by December or early January.
Chief government prosecutor Anisul Haq said the death sentences of six convicts in exile Lieutenant Colonel (dismissed) Khandaker Abdur Rashid, Lieutenant Colonel (relieved) Shariful Haque Dalim, Lieutenant Colonel (retd.) Nur Chowdhury, Lieutenant Colonel (retd.) A.M. Rashed Chowdhury, Captain Abdul Mazed and Risalder Moslehuddin Khan were ready for execution as they did not file any petition seeking a permission to appeal against the High Court verdict, which upheld their sentences. According to the prosecution, Rashid, one of the key plotters, has settled in Benghazi, Libya, where he runs a construction business. He often visits Pakistan and Singapore. Dalim lives in Pakistan and frequently travels to Libya and Nairobi where he has businesses.
Nur Chowdhury and Rashed Chowdhury are in Canada and the U.S. But other sources said Nur lived in Libya and was seeking asylum in Canada. Rashed is trying for asylum in the U.S. Abdul Mazed is hiding in Benghazi, while Moslehuddin might be in the Libyan city, or somewhere in Bangladesh. Another convict, Lieutenant Colonel Aziz Pasha, died in Zimbabwe on June 2, 2001.
Among the five convicts now in custody, Mohiuddin was deported to Bangladesh from Los Angeles on June 17, 2007, after a U.S. court rejected his appeal for residency. Huda was extradited from Bangkok on the day the trial court pronounced its verdict in 1998.Haroon Habib