Bangladesh court to question officials in 2004 arms seizure

September 29th, 2009 - 3:01 pm ICT by IANS  

Dhaka, Sep 29 (IANS) Bangladesh investigators are preparing to question a former home secretary and four others who formed a team to probe the seizure in 2004 of 10 truckloads of firearms and explosives meant for militants in India’s northeast.
Retired home secretary Omar Faruk is the latest in the line of officials who served the then government of prime minister Khaleda Zia (2001-06), being arraigned before a court in the Chittagong port town, the Daily Star newspaper said Tuesday.

The authorities have already questioned and detained three top intelligence officials, who headed the National Security Intelligence (NSI) and are accused of playing key roles in receiving the shipment of arms, ammunition and explosives from China.

Offloaded at Chittagong port, ten truck loads of military material were shifted to the warehouse of a state sector fertiliser company for transporting them to Assam in India, media reports quoting the investigators have said.

They were meant for the United Liberation Front of Asom (Ulfa), a banned separatist armed group, whose top leaders, India says, operate from Bangladesh soil and whose cadres stage violent attacks.

The probe has gained momentum this year after five years of languishing for want of evidence.

Officials, including two former NSI directors general, Maj Gen (rtd), Rezzakul Hyder Chowdhury, who also headed another intelligence body, Directorate General of Field Intelligence (DGFI), and Brig. Rtd. Abdur Rahim are currently under detention as per orders of the Metropolitan Sessions Judge Bhabani Prasad Singha.

Investigating officer Muniruzzaman told The Daily Star that around 50 people, including the probe committee members and witnesses, may be interrogated.

Media reports said the consignment was brought to Chittagong on a ship belonging to a company owned by Salahuddin Qader Chowdhury, a senior opposition lawmaker close to Begum Zia.

The shipment, one of many, was coordinated by Pakistan’s Inter Services Intelligence (ISI), witnesses have told the police and the court.

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