Bangladesh: Ex-home minister to be charged for killing ex-finance minister

Former state minister for home Lutfozzaman Babar and thirteen others have been included in the supplementary charge sheet in connection with the killing of former finance minister Shah AMS Kibria, said the investigator of the case.

Md Rafiqul Islam, investigation officer of the case, is likely to submit the charge sheet to the Habiganj Judicial Magistrate's Court today after probing the case for more than four years.

The Criminal Investigation Department, and Home Secretary Abdus Sobhan Sikder said the charge sheet was scheduled to be submitted yesterday but due to a necessity for its further scrutiny, it finally could not be submitted.

Md Rafiqul Islam was made the investigation officer in May, 2007 after previous IO Munshi Atiqur Rahman went on retirement. During the last BNP-led alliance rule, Munshi Atique pressed charges against 10 BNP men including a top leader of Habiganj district unit, which was rejected by the victim's family and complainant.

Fourteen people including Babar and Indian national Abdul Aziz Batt alias Abdul Majed are going to be included in the charge sheet of Kibria murder case, said Rafiqul, also ASP of the Criminal Investigation Department.

The others are Mufti Mainuddin Sheikh alias Abu Zandal; Harkat-ul Jihad (Huji) kingpin Mufti Abdul Hannan; his brother Muhibullah alias Ovi; Huji operatives Sharif Shahedul Alam Bipul; Hafez Syed Nayeem Ahmed Arif; Badrul Alam Mizan; Mizanur Rahman; Moulana Taj Uddin, brother of ex-BNP deputy minister Abdus Salam Pintu; Mufti Shafiqur Rahman; Mufti Abdul Hai; Mohammad Ali and Badrul Alam Badrul.

In an instant reaction, Asma Kibria, wife of the slain former finance minister, said she would not accept the charge sheet, as it does not contain the name of the mastermind behind the killing.

The CID remanded Babar and interrogated him in February last year with links to Kibria murder. The former state minister was shown arrested in the case.

Rafiqul told The Daily Star that he did not find evidence against 10 people, who were accused in the first charge sheet submitted by previous IO Atiqur Rahman.

However, their names are on the supplementary charge sheet, as it is up to the court to decide on their exclusion from the list, he said.

Shah AMS Kibria, also former Awami League lawmaker from Habiganj, was killed in a grenade attack on a rally in Baidyer Bazar in Habiganj on January 27, 2005. His nephew Shah Manzur Huda, local AL leader Abdur Rahim, Abul Hossain and Siddique Ali were also killed in the attack.

District AL Organising Secretary Abdul Mazid Khan filed two cases -- one for murder and the other under Explosives Substances Act -- with the Habiganj Police Station the next day.

Sylhet Divisional Speedy Trial Tribunal Judge Biplab Goswami started the trial and framed charges against ten people. But the High Court stayed the trial following an appeal from the complainant.

The then BNP-led government formed a probe committee to investigate the attack and the home ministry made Atiqur Rahman the IO of the two cases.

The probe body submitted its report in April 2005 accusing ten people including some local BNP leaders and grassroots activists.

They are district BNP vice president Abdul Quaiyum, Juba Dal leader Zainal Abedin Jalal, Zamir Ali, Tajul Islam, Zainal Abedin Mumin, Shahed Ali, Selim Ahmed, Ayat Ali, Muhibur Rahman and Kajol Mia.

The charge-sheeted accused were released on bail during the tenure of the last caretaker government. One of them died later.

The IO submitted a charge sheet on March 10, 2005 against the same ten people and the two probe reports were identical.

The plaintiff of the two cases and Kibria's family repeatedly expressed "no confidence" in the probe and called for further investigation.

Following an appeal from the complainant, the High Court gave an order to probe the case further. The new IO found banned militant outfit Huji's link with the attack.

The IO said the perpetrators were determined to kill Kibria. They held several secret meetings in the capital and Habiganj before carrying out the attack.

Rafiqul said Babar made arrangements for Moulana Taj Uddin to sneak out of Bangladesh using a fake name days after law enforcers arrested Mufti Hannan.

Badrul Alam Mizan was arrested from Habiganj on October 1, 2006 following Mufti Hannan's statement. Mizan admitted that he had joined the operation on Mufti Hannan's instructions, the IO said.

-The Star/Asia News Network