Hasina moves to speed up Mujib murder trial

January 15th, 2009 - 3:13 pm ICT by IANS  

Dhaka, Jan 15 (IANS) Two new Supreme Court judges are being appointed by the Sheikh Hasina government for speedy trial in the assassination of Bangladesh’s founding father Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, media reports said Thursday. Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina is the daughter of Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, better known as Mujib.

“The Awami League government initiated the trial process in 1996. But no other government took any initiative to complete the trial. Instead, the killers of Bangabandhu (a respectful reference to Rahman) were rewarded,” Law Minister Shafique Ahmed was quoted as saying in the New Age newspaper.

Mujib and most of his family members were killed in August 1975 in a military-led coup after which any probe was prevented by successive regimes till 1996.

Terming the bloody event “a heinous crime”, the law minister said it was now “a national demand” that the trial of the killers must be completed without further delay.

The attorney general’s office will take necessary steps to appoint judges to the appellate division to complete the trial, which is in the final stage.

The case awaits disposal by the appellate division, about eight years after the High Court handed death sentences to 12 former army personnel.

Dubbed “killer majors” by the media and the international community, they were sentenced to death and two people were acquitted by a Dhaka High Court bench in 2001.

However, they have sought a retrial and no hanging has taken place so far.

Some of the accused are still at large and past governments have either not tried or not succeeded in locating them.

Many were sent out on diplomatic assignments by the military-led governments of then presidents Ziaur Rahman and H.M. Ershad and later by then prime minister Khaleda Zia.

One such official, M. Khairuzzaman, a retired army major, now Bangladesh’s high commissioner to Malaysia, is being recalled. A letter was sent to him Tuesday by the foreign office, The Daily Star said Thursday.

Now a secretary-level officer in the foreign office, due for retirement in June, Khairuzzaman has said he was not in the country Aug 15, 1975 and did not participate in the military putsch.

He was later convicted in a related case of Mujib’s four associates being killed in Dhaka jail in November 1975.

The case has a long history of trial and conviction and of judges who felt “embarrassed” and opted out.

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