Dhaka’s envoy to Malaysia to be tried for killing Mujib

January 12th, 2009 - 1:39 pm ICT by IANS  

Dhaka, Jan 12 (IANS) Bangladesh’s high commissioner to Malaysia M. Khairuzzaman, one of the accused in the 1975 assassination of the country’s founding father Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, is being recalled and will be tried for the crime. “He will be recalled to face trial in Bangladesh,” Hasan Mahmud, junior minister for foreign affairs in the government of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, Mujibur Rahman’s daughter, said in an interview Sunday.

A former soldier, Khairuzzaman is one of the 28 persons accused of participating in a military-led coup in which Mujib - as Mujibur Rahman was better known - most of his family members and officials were gunned down on the morning of Aug 15, 1975.

Khairuzzaman was an appointee of Prime Minister Khaleda Zia’s government (2001-06).

Zia’s husband, Ziaur Rahman, who served as president 1977-1981, had also sent many serving and retired officials involved in the rebellion on diplomatic postings.

Mahmud told the Bdnews24.com news agency that the new government that took office Jan 6 had “already discussed the issue of removing Khairuzzaman”.

“Awami League is in power now. It cannot be that Bangabandhu’s killers will be serving as envoys. First, he will be called back and then he will have to face trial (here),” the minister was quoted as saying in New Age newspaper Monday.

Khairuzzaman, who had been serving as acting ambassador in the Philippines, was recalled by the past Hasina government (1996-2001) after he was named in a charge sheet in the Nov 3, 1975 killing of four top aides of Mujib, who were in jail.

He was arrested and forced to retire on Sep 24, 1996. However, soon after the last BNP-led alliance government (2001-06) assumed power, Khairuzzaman was released on bail.

On May 4, 2003 he was reinstated in the government job and was later acquitted in the Jail Killing Case by a trial court in 2004.

Khairuzzaman, a retired army major, has denied involvement in any of the killings.

He told the news agency from Malaysia by phone: “I was abroad when Bangabandhu was murdered. I was not involved in the killing.”

Asked whether he was possibly resigning from his post and returning home, he said: “I have not got any instruction from Dhaka.”

The fate of the accused has swung as per the political fortunes in Bangladesh.

Fifteen persons were convicted for the 1975 killings, some of them sentenced to death during Hasina’s earlier tenure as the prime minister. A court subsequently ordered their retrial. Many of the accused are at large.

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